Marriages in China have plunged to their lowest levels on record in an alarming sign of the deepening population crisis facing the world’s second-largest economy.
Official data revealed that marriage registrations slumped 6.1 per cent to 7.6 million in China last year amid warnings that the economic consequences of an ageing population are beginning to emerge.
It is the fewest marriages since public records began in 1986 and the rate has almost halved in the last decade to 5.4 marriages per 1,000 people. Almost half of those getting married were aged above 30 as people are forced to delay plans to start a family.
China’s brewing demographics crisis will have far-reaching consequences, from economic growth to the housing market, with the central bank warning that its population could peak this year.
Joanna Davies, head of China economics at Fathom Consulting, said China’s “demographic dividend is over”, warning population shifts “will soon act as a constraint on, rather than a driver of, its growth”.
She said China’s deteriorating demographics can be explained by the one-child policy, some of the highest childcare costs in the world and net outward migration.
Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, said: “There are challenges with pensions and funding care for the older population as the number of workers shrinks. And China’s demographic decline will make a difference to its global standing. It’s a huge market that companies and governments want to court.”
He said the demographic shift will also have an impact on its property market which generates a fifth of GDP and is in crisis after problems emerged at its indebted developers.