BEIJING — China’s low birth rate issues have been further complicated by high prices demanded for traditional dowries by families of brides. Chinese social media platforms have recently been appalled at the price a groom’s family have been asked to pay, which has even led to the story being censored by authorities.
The engaged couple saw their engagement fall apart after the bride’s family demanded $163,000 for the privilege of marrying their daughter. Due to their lack of financial resources, the couple was forced to separate.
“I always thought excessive bride prices were stories that only existed on the internet until it happened to my own family,” reads the first line of what was one of the most popular articles on the site. The writer’s cousin fell in love with a woman from Jiangxi province.
The article went viral and received some 22 million hits, with many comments praising the groom and his family for avoiding terrible beautiful family.
The dowry tradition of giving gifts to the bride’s family has existed for hundreds of years in China, and although a 1950 law prohibits forced marriages and any form of asking for property, the custom is widely held. remained in place.
China’s significant demographic imbalance has been a cause that costs have ballooned. The communist nation ended its one-child policy in 2015 and has since resulted in a surplus of around 34 million men, as many families preferred to have a son rather than a daughter. In many regions, the average bride price can easily be five times the average annual disposable income, and financial pressures have made this a problem for Chinese authorities.
With a population of around 1.4 billion, China continues to be the most populous country in the world. However, with birth rates falling for years, it is estimated to hit an all-time high this year, falling below 10 million from last year’s 10.6 million births. Moreover, China’s fertility rate of 1:16 in 2021 was below the OECD standard of 2:1 for a stable population.
To combat low growth rates, Chinese authorities have recently introduced numerous measures to encourage couples to have more children, including extended maternity leave and other financial incentives. Beijing has also introduced a 30-day reflection period for couples wishing to divorce. Nevertheless, the will to have more children is among the weakest in the world. According to the Chinese government, excessive bride prices are another obstacle for young people to start starting families.
Recently, local authorities have put in place many rules to limit excessive bride prices. In September, national authorities also decided to intervene when they announced a national testing campaign to “promote a series of standards” and strict regulations on “vulgar standards”. The campaign will last until the end of the year.
Reuters recently reported that China’s National Health Commission said COVID-19 also contributed to the decline in the country’s marriage and birth rates.
The Reuters report went on to say that demographers also said that China’s uncompromising zero-COVID policy to quickly eradicate any epidemic with strict controls on people’s lives may have done deep and lasting damage to their desire to have children.
Reuters contributed to this report.