China marriage rate got much-needed boost in 2023

According to new data from China’s Bureau of Civil Affairs, last year saw a significant jump in the number of Chinese couples getting married.

In 2023, 7.68 million couples in China registered for marriage, up 12.4% from last year’s 6.83 million, the lowest recorded marriage figure since 1980. This marks the first time in nine years the marriage rate has increased, which could in part be the result of a backlog of registrations caused by the pandemic.

Marriage rates are closely tied to birth rates, making this welcome news as China is now in its second consecutive year of population decline. The country’s policymakers took note of this troubling trend a decade ago, ending the thirty-year-long One Child policy and eventually raising the birth limit to 3 children in 2022. However, Chinese couples remain reluctant to have that many children, with one survey in Guangzhou reporting that just 9% wanted 3 or more kids (~80% said they wanted 2).  

At this year’s Two Sessions, the biggest annual event in China’s political calendar, Premier Li Qiang pledged to build “a birth-friendly society” and promote “balanced population development.” This could hopefully mean more childrearing subsidies,  as China is the second most expensive country in the world to raise a child after South Korea, a strong factor in many younger people’s decision to keep their families smaller than the recommended three children – or forego procreating altogether.

Interestingly, divorce rates also went up by 23%, reflecting changing social attitudes toward separation. According to the report from the bureau, a total of 2.59 million couples registered for divorce in 2023. However, this could be lower than the real figure as it only reflects uncontested divorces, in which neither spouse objects.


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