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November 1, 2011

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Marrying younger in Shanghai

PEOPLE in Shanghai are marrying earlier than they did a decade ago.

According to the latest population census, locals' average first marriage age is 24.25 years old, a year younger than in 2000, local statistic authorities said yesterday.

People in suburban areas get married much sooner - about three years younger on average - than their counterparts in downtown areas. In downtown districts of Shanghai, the average first-marriage age is 25.75, while that in suburban areas is 22.76 years old, said the Shanghai Statistic Bureau.

"Our statistics also found that cross-regional marriage in Shanghai increased remarkably in recent years," said Zhou Jixiang, director of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau's marriage management division. "A remarkable portion of people from outside Shanghai prefer getting married earlier."

Zhou explained that this resulted in earlier marriages overall, as more Shanghainese married spouses from outside the city.

Meanwhile, the number of unmarried women in Shanghai is increasing faster than unmarried men. Single women 15 years of age and older occupied near 20 percent of the total female population, up 2.2 percentage points from 2000, while men occupied 23.6 percent, up 1 percentage point, according to the statistics.

There are also more unmarried women than men exceeding the normal matrimonial age. During the past decade in Shanghai, the number of single women between the ages of 30 and 44 increased by 2.7 percent, but for men the number decreased by 1.4 percent, officials said.

Some local women expressed a general awareness of this situation.

"Almost on all the matchmaking parties I've participated, there are many more women than men," said Grace Lin, a 28-year-old single woman. "It's actually a bit frustrating."

The statistics also found a remarkable increase of well-educated people within the ranks of the unmarried. About 46 percent of unmarried people held college diplomas or above, up 23 percentage points compared to 2000.

Parents expressed concern about their single daughters with high education backgrounds.

"As far as I'm concerned, not many men want to accept a woman having a higher diploma than themselves," said Ma Tian, an anxious father. "My daughter has a master's degree, and I think she has a relatively narrower choice range than other women."


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