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Shanghainese marrying even later in life as fewer pick expat partners

SHANGHAINESE were marrying later in life last year compared with 2012, and there was a jump in “inter-provincial” marriages, a report by the city’s civil affairs authorities showed today.

The age for first marriage rose to 28.19 years for women and 30.17 years for men, up 0.89 and 0.17 years, respectively, Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.

The average age of men marrying was 34.02 years old, 1.3 years older than that in 2012. Last year, the average Shanghai bride was 31.61 years old, 1.31 years older than a year earlier.

The nationwide average, with men marrying at 25 and women at 23, is still deemed a late marriage by many. Women in their late-20s and men in their mid-30s are sometimes called “leftover” people. The growing number of unmarried, well-educated people, particularly women, has deeply worried parents in China.

“The marriage concept of locals has changed as people no longer believe marriage is the only choice for happiness and a late marriage would reduce marriage quality," said Chen Zhanbiao, director of the marriage registration division of the bureau.

Local women, particularly those with a successful career, seem to have difficulty in finding “Mr Right” due to high expectations and they don't want to compromise, which delays their marriage age, experts said.

Shanghai’s fast-paced life, strong work pressure and demanding mothers-in-law, who have extremely high income expectations for potential husbands for their daughters, have worsened the situation.

Men have to meet certain criteria such as owning an apartment and a car, which are often considered a prerequisite for marriage, which makes them wait longer before marriage.

In some cases, lovebirds break up due to these financial requirements.

Last year, 147,820 couples with at least one Shanghainese partner tied the knot, an increase of about 2.92 percent.

Among them, 55,373 involved “inter-provincial” marriages, posing a rise of 10.11 percent from 2012 and accounting for 37.99 percent of domestic marriages last year.

Those figures rose because of the rising number of people from elsewhere in China who stay and work in the city, Chen said. He predicted the number would continue to rise in the following years.

The city registered 2,054 cross-border marriages last year. Shanghai people married partners from 71 countries and regions, with the United States, Japan and Australia topping the list, down 6.42 percent from 2012.

A total of 417 couples in which one partner was an expat or from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan divorced last year, up 4.25 percent from a year earlier.

“It is no longer a common understanding that marrying an expat would bring wealth and a happy marriage, and more people are pursuing the quality of marriage,” Chen said.


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