Chinese youth are falling in love at a younger age than before but delaying marriage until much later. (File Photo/CFP)
China has released a youth development blue book under the title of the New Century China Development Report (2000-2010), providing statistics on marriage and family in the country.
The data showed that people fall in love at a younger age than before and people at the age of 34 are most likely to get a divorce, according to the state-run People's Daily Online.
In the beginning of 21st century, Beijing introduced a series of new policies and regulations regarding young people, marriage and family planning, which has significantly impacted the love and family lives of China's younger generation.
In April 2001, the revised Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China stated that cohabitation is no longer illegal. In addition, divorce does not a require a review period and letter of introduction. In December of the same year, the Population and Family Planning Law advocated the "one couple, one child" policy to encourage non-married couples to plan ahead and stabilize the existing family planning policy.
Couples that comply with the conditions of the law may be permitted to have a second child. In July 2003, the Marriage Registration Ordinance abolished the pre-marital medical examination. In July 2007, the Views of the Higher Institutions on School Students Family Planning Issues did away with the requirement of a school's approval for student marriage.
Typically, the younger generation of Chinese are falling in love at an earlier age but delaying their first marriage. Although the report claims that the quality of marriage has improved, the rate of stability has also plummeted, with many couples divorcing after a relatively short time.
That people report falling in love at a younger age reflects improvements in material living conditions and trends in sexual mores. According to a survey in 2004, the actual age of young people falling in love was generally two years earlier than the authorities had expected.
In 2005, the proportion of unmarried Chinese in the younger age bracket was 4.91% higher than in 2001. In 2009, the number rose to 4.06% higher than in 2005, indicating a clear trend of the maturing of the marriage age.
The number of unmarried young men is much higher than unmarried young women. In 2009, in the unmarried population bracket between ages 15-29 years old and 15-35 years old, men outnumbered women by 19.49 million and 23.138 million, respectively. This has created the "marriage squeeze," a problem that is more obvious in China's rural male population, where men with lower career expectations may find it more difficult to find a spouse.
The report finds that contemporary youth have a higher demand regarding the quality of marriage, but have a lower sense of social and family responsibility. From 2006 to 2009, the divorce rate among people aged 15 to 35 years old has increased year-on-year, reaching 8.168% in 2009. The divorce rate reached the peak at the age of 34, with 20 out of every 1000 people getting divorced.
The divorce rate in China has increased for seven consecutive years.
The divorce rate in Beijing and Shanghai has surpassed 33%, particularly among people between 22 and 35.