Chinese population of first marriage dropped to bellow 11 million for the first time in 2022; newborns expected to drop below 9 million in 2023

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Chinese population registering for their first marriages dropped to bellow 11 million for the first time in 2022, a 55.9 percent decrease from the peak of 23.85 million in 2013 over the consecutive past nine years. Experts think it’s a comprehensive result from the decrease of young people of marriageable ages and some people’s waning desire to get married.

According to China Statistical Yearbook 2023 published by the National Bureau of Statistics, 10.51 million people registered their first marriage in 2022, a decrease of 1.06 million from the number in 2021, accounting for a 9.16 percent drop. It was also the first time that the Chinese population registering for their first marriage dropped to below 11 million, according to a report by yicai.com.

The number of those getting married has been continuously decreasing in recent years and Chinese people have been putting off their registration for the first marriage to later ages. Statistics show that 6.83 million Chinese couples tied the knot in 2022, a drop of 10.6 percent from 2021.

Despite that the number of marriage registration includes both those getting married for the first time and those who are remarrying, the former is more relevant to the statistics of newborns.

From an overall perspective, the decline in population of those getting married for the first time was a result of multiple factors such as a decrease in the eligible population for marriage, a delay in the age of first marriage and people’s changing attitudes toward marriage and relationships.

Statistics of the newborns over the past forty years show that China’s birth rate has been declining for consecutive multiple years after reaching its peak in 1987.

Last year, the number of marriage registrations recorded a historic low since 1980, thus it was unsurprising that the population of first marriage also dropped to a record low, He Yafu, an independent demographer, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Besides, statistics shows that Chinese people got married for the first time at 28.67 years old on average in 2020, an increase of 3.78 years compared with the 24.89 years old in 2010, according to yicai.com.

Demographer Dong Yuzheng told yicai.com that multiple factors have contributed to the situation that nowadays many young people are not eager to get married, including the perceived instability of marriages that affects young people’s aspirations toward marriage; changing views on marriage among the younger generation, with many no longer considering marriage and childbearing as a mandatory experience in life; and the rising costs of marriage.

Besides, due to the impact of COVID-19 at the end of 2022, some people put off their marriage till this year, which also affected the figure of first marriage population last year.

According to He, the latest statistics from China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs show that the number of marriage registrations in the first three quarters of this year has increased compared with the same period last year. It can be expected that the total number of marriage registrations nationwide this year is expected to rise compared with that in last year.

He noted that compared with the number of marriage registrations, the population of first marriage at childbearing age is more relevant to the statistics of newborns. Analysis on various data shows that it is highly likely that the newborns in 2023 will continue to decline for the consecutive seventh year since 2017, with the number dropping to between 8 million and 9 million.

He said that with the end of the epidemic and the number of marriages rebounds in 2023, it is expected that the newborns in 2024 will stop declining and start to rise again, but the general trend of continuing decline in the number of newborns will not change unless more vigorous birth support policies are rolled out.

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