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One of the greatest fears of Chinese parents is coming true: China’s young people are turning away from marriage. The trend is also worrying the government. After a whole decade of increases in the national marriage rate, China witnessed its second year of decline in the number of newly registered unions in 2015, with a 6.3% drop from 2014 and 9.1% from 2013. This was accompanied by a rise in the age of marriage, which has increased by about a year and a half in the first ten years of this century.

The decline and delay of marriage in China is part of a global trend. The United States, most OECD nations, and Japan, have all undergone a similar process in recent years, as have other major Chinese societies. Hong Kong and Taiwan, for instance, both have much higher ages of first marriage than mainland China. But in a culture that puts great value on family, parents are alarmed by even the tiniest likelihood that their offspring will remain unmarried and childless.

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