Why Male PhD Students in China Can’t Find Wives

Male students pursuing doctorate degrees in China are facing the unfortunate trade-off of becoming “leftovers” in the marriage market due to extended education that shrinks their social circle and leaves them broke.

The plight of male doctorate students in the country has been the subject of public discussion following reports on a 30-year-old Ph.D. student who fell victim to a woman he met online, the Global Times noted.

As far as the story goes, the male student, pressured by his family to marry already, was swindled out of over 7,000 yuan (roughly $1,040) by the woman who apparently lured him only for money.

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China’s male doctorate students, however, are not oblivious to the prospect of staying single for the rest of their lives, perhaps even aware of boys so much younger than they are but already in relationships.

A primary disadvantage they perceive is their current economic status, which, understandably, would not be the best considering that their studies delay them from maximizing opportunities in the job market.

Ph.D. student John Fang, 29, recalled the demand of his ex-girlfriend’s mother: 

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She told me several times that I need to have an economic basis for the new family and that a place of our own is a must.”

But Fang’s limited income made even the idea of a house loan practically impossible. He wanted to put the wedding on hold until he graduates and secures employment, but the wait was simply too long for his partner.

Another disadvantage the students find is their own preference for a “spiritual match,” which basically echoes their desire for a much deeper relationship that requires cautiousness on their part.

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“As your horizon has been widened and you have a more insightful vision of the world, you are more willing to find a real soul mate and less likely to make any compromise in a spiritual match. I think that’s one of the reasons that many doctoral students remain single,” said Wang, another doctorate student.

Finally, students have noted the idea of a “watershed effect,” which results from the small social circle they associate with. One who identified as “Liu Qi” pointed:

“The dividing line is when you step into a doctoral program. It’s a like a watershed and you’d better have a stable relationship before that. If not, you are most likely going to be leftover.”

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Liu explained that male doctorate students can only find love in two channels: at school or in blind dates. Sadly, female doctorate students are often few, of which many are already off-limits. Those in blind dates, on the other hand, tend to be employed women with more social experience, which puts male doctorate students at an “embarrassing” position.

Male doctorate students are in a bit of bind, but the phenomena may be also extending from economic and social factors within their reach. It must be noted that China has the most imbalanced gender ratio in the world, which, to be presumptive, trims their chances of finding the one even more.

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