BEIJING – China’s problem with a low birth rate has been compounded by the high prices demanded by families of potential brides for traditional dowries. Chinese social media was recently stunned by the price one groom’s family was asked to pay, even leading to the story being censored by authorities.
The engaged couple in question saw their brief engagement collapse after the bride’s family demanded $163,000 for the privilege of marrying their daughter. Due to lack of funds, the couple was forced to break up.
“I always thought exorbitant bride prices were stories that only existed on the internet until it happened to my own family,” read the opening line of what was one of the site’s most popular articles. The writer’s uncle fell in love with a woman from Jiangxi province.
CHINA’S EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATION SAYS COVID HAS ACCELERATED DECLINING BIRTH RATE
The article went viral, garnering some 22 million hits, with many of the comments congratulating the groom and his family on avoiding the dreaded in-laws.
The custom of giving gifts to the bride’s family has been around for hundreds of years in China, and although a 1950s law outlawed forced marriages and all forms of property acquisition, the practice has largely persisted.
China’s significant demographic imbalance has been one cause of rising costs. The communist nation ended its one-child policy in 2015, which has since left a surplus of 34 million men, with many families preferring a son to a daughter. In many areas, the average bride price can easily be five times the average annual disposable income, and financial pressures have led to it becoming a problem facing Chinese authorities.
CHINA’S POPULATION EXPECTED TO Dwindle BY 2025: OFFICIAL
With a population of around 1.4 billion people, China continues to be the world’s most populous nation. However, as the birth rate has been declining for years, it is expected to hit a record low this year, falling below 10 million from last year’s 10.6 million births. In addition, China’s fertility rate was 1:16 in 2021, below the 2:1 OECD standard for a stable population.
To combat the low growth rate, Chinese authorities have recently introduced numerous measures to encourage couples to have more children, including extended maternity leave and other financial incentives. Beijing also introduced a 30-day notice period for couples who wanted to divorce. Nevertheless, the desire to have more children is among the lowest in the world. According to the Chinese government, exorbitant bride prices are another obstacle to young people starting a family.
Recently, municipalities have implemented numerous regulations to curb excessive bride prices. In September, national authorities also decided to step in when they announced a nationwide trial campaign to “promote a series of standards” and strict rules on “rude standards”. The campaign will last until the end of the year.
CHINA SEES GOOD IN COVID-19 CASES
Reuters recently reported that China’s National Health Commission said that COVID-19 also contributed to the decline the country’s marriage and birth rates.
The Reuters report goes on to say that demographers have also said so China’s uncompromising ‘zero-COVID’ policy Eliminating an immediate epidemic through strict surveillance of people’s lives could have caused profound, lasting damage to their desire to have children.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP
Reuters contributed to this report.