single men in china

Bachelorhood in China



gender move out absolute numbers
rural bachelor search (2)
severe across (2) emergence
engage impatient matchmaker
fulfill ripe age considered
duty partner requirement
expect cupid (2) impossible
basic potential challenge (2)
at least ripe (2) meet the requirement
reject demand degree (2)
eligible scarcity bargain (2)
suitor minority play cupid
rate situation settle down
island province preference
afford majority play a part
roof share (3) disproportionate
bare nephew imbalance
local culture background (2)
warn emphasis embarrassment
pursue court (3) motivation
dare mate (3) soul mate
chore suggest branch (2)
policy take turn household
among minor (2) come into force
option offspring bring down
left (3) figure (3) bachelorette
cohort compare in other words
rapid date (3) make it (2)






In absolute numbers, there are thirty-three (33) million more men than women in China today.

The gender imbalance in China is most severe in rural farmlands, as women in these villages travel out to cities in search of husbands.

And that has led to the emergence of “bachelor villages” across the country.

In Qishan, a city in Shaanxi province for example, impatient parents like sixty-eight (68) year-old Xing Gengshan, commonly engage matchmakers to find the right life partners for their sons.

In a village where men and women typically marry aged around twenty (20), Xing’s thirty-two (32) year-old son is considered too old to be single.

Xing Gengshan, Father of Two Sons: “As long as my son doesn’t settle down, I won’t be at peace because I haven’t fulfilled my duty as a father.

Anyway, my son is as impatient as I am; he is at the ripe age to get married.

In a village, no girl would marry a man once he is past the age of forty (40).

That’s impossible.”

To play cupid has been a constant challenge for matchmakers like Wang Luxi.

Wang Luxi, Matchmaker: “Look at this girl; she works for the government. How tall is your son?”
Xing Gengshan, Father: “1.7 meters — exactly 1.7 meters, not taller than that.”
Wang Luxi, Matchmaker: “The girls normally look for young men taller than 1.76. Your son doesn’t meet that basic requirement.”
Xing Gengshan, Father: “But he’s 1.7 meters tall.”
Wang Luxi, Matchmaker: “They want 1.76. Your son won’t make it!”

Xing Gengshan, Father: “This girl is the same age as my son. This one is good too.”
Wang Luxi, Matchmaker: “I’ll look for a girl who holds a bachelor’s degree for your son.”
Xing Gengshan, Father: “You don’t understand: girls with university degrees have very high demands. I don’t want any girls with a university degree. My son said that university graduates will say ‘yes’ in the beginning, but reject him in the end.

How about you talk to this girl for me?”

Wang Luxi, Matchmaker: “Sure. This one has no degree.”

Scarcity has lent families of eligible girls more bargaining power. Families of marriageable girls can afford to demand far more from potential suitors.

They have to own at least a car and a house in the city before marriage is even on the table.

Xing Gengshan, Father: “The situation now is that many boys don’t have a university degree, but too many girls have one. Naturally, the success rate for boys has become low.”

China’s southern province of Hainan is the country’s largest island. But the people who live here are amongst the poorest in China.

With bachelors in the majority, the province has the country’s most disproportionate gender ratio.

Fifty-seven (57) year old Zuo Yahe shares the same roof with four other nephews in Lingshui, twenty (20) kilometers from Sanya.

They’re what locals would refer to as a “bare branch” — single and unmarried.

In a culture that puts huge emphasis on wealth, poor unmarried men are often seen as an embarrassment to their family and community.

Zuo for example, had once dated a girl when he was a teenager.

Zuo Yahe, 57-year-old Uncle: “I didn’t have a good enough family background, so I didn’t continue to pursue her. Someone else courted her.

We were too poor — I didn’t dare bring her home.”

As time passed, he lost all motivation to find a soul mate.

Zuo Yahe, 57-year-old Uncle: “Many of the women have moved out of the village to get married elsewhere. Not many are left here.”

Without a wife to take on household chores, they buy their own lunch from the streets, take turns to wash their clothing and cook their own dinner.

China’s One Child Policy that came into force in 1979, played a large part in bringing down the number of female offspring. For families who had to choose just the one, daughters were not an option, given the general preference for male offspring.

Chinese government figures suggest that there are nearly twelve (12) million bachelors between the ages of thirty (30) and thirty-nine (39), compared to about six million bachelorettes of that age group.

In other words, in that cohort, at least six million men are expected to die alone.

Experts are already warning that there will be thirty percent (30%) more men than women by 2055.

What does this mean for China’s rapidly aging society?


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1. There is a significant “shortage” of women in China. True or false? Is the gender imbalance evenly distributed throughout the country?

2. Do villagers usually marry at an early or late age? Are they conservative, moderate, liberal or radical in their views of marriage?

3. Only sons are concerned; parents don’t care because it’s not their problem. Is this right or wrong?

4. Is there matchmaking in China? Are there matchmakers? Can the matchmaker help the man’s father? Why is the son in a bind?

5. Who has the advantage, men or women? Why do women have the advantage? What are their criteria or requirements for a husband?

6. Does education factor in a relationship? Is education a factor?

7. What does the term “bare branch” mean? Is this good or bad? Describe their lives. What are their lives like?

8. Is the gender imbalance natural? What contributed to the gender imbalance?


A. There is no gender imbalance in my community. Yes or no? Was there an imbalance in the past? Have there been historical imbalances?

B. What kind of men do women desire? What sort of women do men want to marry?

C. What are relationships like, e.g. cohabiting, marriage, divorce, single-households, single parents, etc.?

D. Has this been changing over the years?

E. Are there many immigrants, migrants or expats in your country? Are they mostly men, women or both?

F. What will it be like in the future?

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