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The poorer “China’s leftover men” are, the higher the cost of marriage

Male participants take part of a bachelor's meeting event during a mass match-making event ahead of Singles Day in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Singles Day was begun by Chinese college students in the 1990s as a version of Valentine's Day for people without romantic partners. The timing was based on the date Nov. 11, or "11.11" — four singles. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
Seeking: wife. Price: negotiable.
  • Echo Huang
By Echo Huang


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

In China, there’s a high price to pay if a man wants a wife.

“The poorer the area is, the higher the dowry price,” said state mouthpiece People’s Daily today (Feb. 20) on a recent survey mapping the customary dowries paid by men across China.

The going rate of a dowry in some of the poorest provinces in China like Shaanxi, Gansu, Xinjiang, and the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, is as high as 200,000 yuan ($29,000). Besides cash, some prospective brides also ask for “three-golds”—gold bracelets, a diamond ring, a diamond necklace—and “one auto,” reports (link in Chinese) the newspaper.


China has one of the worst gender imbalances in the world because of its decades-long one-child policy, which meant most families had a preference for boys over girls. In 2016, the country had 30 million more men (link in Chinese) than women, and the imbalance is more acute in rural areas. Zhai Zhenwu, director of population studies center at Renmin University in Beijing, told the People’s Daily that dowries in rural areas have been rising since the 1980s because of the scarcity of females.

Last week, a man in his 40s, Yang Ruiqing, reportedly spent half a lifetime and his life savings ($22,000) in search of a wife. Yang, who lives in impoverished Gansu province in the northwest of the country, is among millions of China’s “leftover men” competing for a wife—to no avail.

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