Implications of China's future bride shortage for the geographical distribution and social protection needs of never-married men

Popul Stud (Camb). 2013;67(1):39-59. doi: 10.1080/00324728.2012.723893. Epub 2012 Dec 11.


Because sex ratios at birth have risen sharply in China in recent decades, an increasing proportion of men will be unable to find a bride, and will face old age without the support of a wife and children. We project the proportions of never-married men and their geographical distribution in China in the coming decades. Our projections assume that two tendencies in current marriage patterns will persist: that women will continue to migrate to wealthier areas and to prefer men with better prospects. We find that, by 2030, more than 20 per cent of men in China aged 30-39 will never have married, and that the proportion will be especially high among poor men in low-income provinces that are least able to provide social protection programmes. The projected geographic concentration of bachelors could be socially disruptive, and the results suggest a need to expand the coverage and central financing of social protection programmes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Dynamics / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Dynamics / trends
  • Public Policy* / trends
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Single Person* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Work / organization & administration
  • Social Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Work / trends