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Hong Kong’s Gender Imbalance Leaving a Generation of Unmarried Women

Posted: 08/4/2014 11:09 am

Women browsing single men’s information displayed on a board in a dating event in Shanghai.

While China has a lopsided sex ratio of 1,176 men for every 1,000 women, an imbalance that could leave 24 million men without a wife by 2020, the country’s special administrative region of Hong Kong is having an equally confounding problem but in reverse: a surplus of unmarried women, the result of the city’s worst gender imbalance recorded in history according to the latest official government statistics.

In 1981, the city’s sex ratio was 1,087 men for  every 1,000 women. However, 33 years later, the gender imbalance has declined to 864 men for every 1,000 women, down from 876 men recorded in 2013. This is Hong Kong’s most imbalanced gender ratio since the city first started recording it in 1961.

According to Xinhua, there are two factors behind the problem. One is the influx of mainland women who generally hold a single-entry Hong Kong visa. The other is the mass of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, mostly women from Philippines and Indonesia. The population of domestic helpers in Hong Kong is estimated at more than 300,000, wrote The Diplomat.

Meanwhile, the pool of unmarried Hong Kong women aged 25 or above, or the so-called “leftover women”, is also growing. In the city’s central and western district, for instance, the number of unmarried women account for 33% of the district’s total population. In Shatin district alone, there are more than 90,000 unmarried women, according to the Xinhua report, citing official figures.

As a result, the ages for marrying and child-bearing have been pushed later and later. The average age for a woman to marry has moved from 23.9 years old in 1981 to 29.1 years old in 2013. Likewise, their child-bearing age has been postponed to 31.3 in 2013.

In addition, the plight of the city’s leftover women is worsening as more of the city’s men marry mainland women across the border. There could be many reasons for this, but popular belief in Hong Kong is that mainland women are, rightly or wrongly, viewed as more compliant than the stereotyped selective and picky Hong Kong women. In 2013, close to 20,000 Hong Kong men married mainland women.

Squeezed by the worsening gender imbalance in favour of men in the city, Hong Kong women are looking to the fuerdai, the second generation of rich, on the mainland for future partners.

Dating consulting agency personnel Ou Huifang said Hong Kong’s surplus women are “perfect matches” for the mainland’s surplus men. Mainland men in general favor Hong Kong, which means they will have an additional sense of accomplishment if they can marry a Hong Kong woman, Ou continued.

But so far, the cross-border dating experiences have been disappointing for Hong Kong women as they are far too independent to fit the traditional model for mainland men, which involves seeking a “virtuous wife and caring mother”, according to another Hong Kong-based dating agency. For now, most Hong Kong women will continue to be unmarried and lonely by choice, or increasingly, by default.

Photos: Daily Mail; Reuters


Bathroom Building Boom Begins for Women in Shenzhen

Posted: 08/1/2014 10:30 am

wc female bathroomShenzhen ladies: even if you are without pink parking spots or pink holidays, your city wants you to know that they support equality for women when it comes to bathroom use. That means more bathrooms for women are on the way.

The Urban Planning Land and Resources Commission of Shenzhen has announced it will be increasing public bathroom services for women throughout the city in a new regulation to go into effect on August 1 that will see two or three new female bathrooms built for every one for males, reports China Daily. The new regulations will make a greater number of women’s bathrooms mandatory for any new buildings built for the next three years.

READ: Women in Guangzhou Want More Toilets, Occupy the Men’s Loo

An online poll conducted by SZnews showed that 93% of respondents support the new regulations, while 92% pointed out that existing facilities need to be renovated in order to meet expectations.

Some men expressed dissatisfaction with the new regulation, suggesting that unisex toilets should be built instead.

It is not known if similar steps will be taken in neighboring Dongguan, which is currently experiencing a gender imbalance of 118 men for every 100 women according to 2010 census figures. Data from 2000 showed that Dongguan was once full of female residents when there were 89 men for every 100 women.


Photos: life.zdface


New Census Data: There Are 5 Million More Men Than Women in Guangdong

Posted: 05/23/2014 2:28 pm

population guangdong census statistics

The Statistics Bureau of Guangdong Province has released census data from last year, and we’re going to generalize it this way: the average Guangdong resident is male, married, lives in the city, is getting older, and has many friends in the same boat.

The 2013 provincial census is full of rather alarming statistics, none more shocking that the wide discrepancy that exists between the sexes: there are 55.4 million male residents compared to only 50.9 million females., a difference of 4.5 million, reported the Nandu. 

If you think living in the PRD is a great idea, many other people think so too. There are 57.1 million people living in the nine cities of the Pearl River Delta, an increase of 0.45% from the year before. They constitute 53.69% of the province’s permanent residents.

guangdong census population statistics

Moving to the city is tremendously popular in Guangdong. 72.1 million people live in cities while only 34.3 million people live in the countryside, a ratio of 67.76% to 32.24%. Last year, 720,100 people moved to the city, an annual growth rate of 1.01%.

The province has 106.4 million permanent provincial residents with an average population density of 593 people per square kilometer. The annual population growth rate of 0.47% has slowed down a bit, but this hasn’t made getting married any easier.

Married residents comprise the bulk of Guangdong’s population at 68.51%, while the unmarried population stands at 26.32%. Divorced residents comprise 0.81% of the population, of which widowers comprise a total of 4.36%. While there has been an increase in every other category, unmarried people continue to shrink as a group at a loss of 0.88%.

As well, Guangdong’s elderly population continues to grow, and for the first time ever comprises over 8% of the total population of the province. There are 8.6 million people over 65 in Guangdong, an increase of 1.2 million from the previous year, signifying a 16.26% increase in annual growth.

We’re not sure where the growing number of urban men will find their brides as the population continues to get older, but then they’ll likely get wisdom from their elders on how to find a date.

Photo: Nandu, dahe


Opinion poll reveals generation gap in Guangdong’s villages

Posted: 10/23/2013 7:00 am

An opinion poll has revealed a vast difference in opinion on topics such as farming, business, urban migration and gender between 18-30 year-olds and their parents’ generation in Guangdong’s villages.

The Canton Public Opinion Research Centre published a report based on a poll conducted from October 2012 to June 2013 revealing that the young were more averse to working on farms, more keen on running their own business, more interested in migrating to medium-sized cities than large cities, and less discriminatory on gender issues, China Daily reports.


Forty-five percent of the polled young villagers found work other than farming and only 13 percent chose to live off the land. In contrast, 44 percent of the polled older villagers, 50 to 60 years old, earned their living by farming and only 17 percent found other work.

As well as being unfashionable, becoming a farmer is less practical than it used to be, courtesy of Google Images

This is partly the result of policy, as according to the BBC, the land set aside for agriculture and the number of people working on it have shrunk as countryside continues to get converted into housing, factories and roads.

The list “Seven reasons why you don’t want to be a farmer in China,” which was published by International Business Times in August, cites environmental reasons such as pollution, soil problems, and the overuse of fertiliser.

But aside from such practical concerns, those born in the post-Mao era have reason to fear being seen as backward and uneducated if they choose to cultivate the land for a living. This could impact their marriage prospects.

In a country that once held up farmers as being paragons of simplicity and virtue, the rush to get rich that has very much been in fashion since the 1980s has seen expressions such as “你很农民” (literally “You are very farmer”) commonly used in a derogatory way.

Running a business

The poll also found that 21 percent of young villagers run their own businesses, which is 9 percentage points higher than polled older villagers.

This is the result of a phenomenon that emerged in the 1980s. As China began to embrace the goals of the global market, individuals were encouraged to take a risk and start their own business, which became known as “下海” or “plunging into the sea.”

Once China’s richest man, Huang Guangyu was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2010 for manipulating markets, image courtesy of The Guardian

Although private sector development is seen by experts as more of an effect than a cause of China’s economic success, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor has described China as one of the most entrepreneurial countries on earth, citing dimensions such as fear of failure and entrepreneurial intentions.

Private companies with more than eight employees began to emerge only in 1981 and were not officially sanctioned until 1988. However, according to China Macro Finance, a research firm in New York, the number of registered private businesses grew by more than 30% a year between 2000 and 2009. China has won admiration for its state capitalism. However, the country’s vast state-owned enterprises tend not to be very efficient or profitable compared to smaller, private entities that operate with little fanfare, according to The Economist.

As well as having more opportunities and incentives than their parents’ generation, the young can look up to successful entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma of Alibaba and Ma Huateng of Tencent.

Of course, being a generation whose parents grew up poor, most young businesspeople are more interested in simply making ends meet than bothering the Forbes rich list.

In 2006, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article about the dangers of getting rich in China. The article mentioned the number of wealthy Chinese who have ended up bankrupt, in jail or dead, and held up Gome entrepreneur Huang Guangyu (then China’s richest man) as being one of the few unbridled successes.

Huang was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2010.

Urban migration

While 38 percent of the polled older villagers would love to settle down in big cities if they were able to, 50 percent of the polled young villagers prefer medium-sized cities.

The preference among young people to migrate to medium-sized cities is also partly the result of government policy. According to the Brookings Institution Press, the government has been exploring ways to stimulate growth in small and medium-sized cities for some 30 years now.

However, the Economic Observer reported this year that policy makers are split over the pace at which smaller cities should expand.

A difference in taste between the generations is also no doubt a factor. The bright lights of modern-day Guangzhou or Shenzhen may appeal to a person who grew up in an impoverished, hermetic China. But a younger person may take into account factors such as unfriendliness, pollution, traffic, and the cost of living.

Gender issues

Among the polled young villagers, 63 percent did not care whether they had a boy or a girl. However, 54 percent of the polled older villagers believed that a male heir was vitally important.

For centuries, Chinese families feared the lack of continued lineage or protection in old age if they failed to produce a male heir.

The Book of Songs, which dates from around 1000-700 BC, contains the following lines:
“When a son is born, Let him sleep on the bed, Clothe him with fine clothes, And give him jade to play… When a daughter is born, Let her sleep on the ground, Wrap her in common wrappings, And give broken tiles to play…”

China’s historical preference for baby boys ha led to some utterly horrifying stories and statistics about the abortion and abandonment of baby girls since the implementation of the one-child policy.

The younger generation now has to live with the social and economic consequences. Census data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that in 2011, China’s gender ratio stood at 117.78 newborn boys for every 100 baby girls, a continuous decline from 119.45 in 2009 and 117.94 in 2010.

15 men beg the same woman to marry her in this cartoon from

It is estimated that, by 2020, there will be 24 million more men than women at marriage age, and all the social problems that will go with it. The growing imbalance also means that forced prostitution and human trafficking has become “rampant” in some parts of the country, according to the BBC.

So, even though the income gap between the genders is widening rather than closing, it makes perfect sense that those aged under 30 see the upside to producing a daughter.

The youth of today

The lesson is, both generations have legitimate reasons for doing what they do and believing what they believe.

Can you guess which older gentleman said the following?

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

The answer is Socrates.

Conclusion – there is no such thing as a bad generation.

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