Getting a foot on the property ladder is a challenge for millions of young people everywhere—apart from in China it appears. A whopping 70% of Chinese millennials already own their own homes, despite the fact that China has seven of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world for residential real estate.
That’s according to a recently published HSBC study of home ownership among 9,000 millennials (which the bank defines as those born between 1981 and 1998). In contrast, only 35% of millennials in the US and 31% of those in the UK already own their own apartment or house.
Owning a house is as important as having a good job for young men in China, at least in terms of steps toward an even greater life goal: getting married. The One Child Policy, enforced from 1979 to 2015, created a skewed society. By 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women on the marriage market, so competition to find a wife is fierce. Many parents will chip in to help with the house costs in order to make their sons more attractive to potential brides.
“It is the custom that husbands will provide a home,” Dr Jieyu Liu, deputy director of the SOAS China Institute, told the BBC. “As young people’s wages are too low, the husband’s family is expected to take on the responsibility to purchase the property in their son’s name, or pay the deposit.” Assisting with a home purchase can also be a savvy investment for parents in the long run, many of whom might move in with their kids in old age.
Of course, they’re not the only ones. Young people everywhere often rely on gifts or loans from parents to scrabble together a deposit. A recent report from the Social Mobility Commission found 34% of first-time buyers in the UK got financial help from their families.