In what appears like the very consequence of a demographic disaster, millions of Chinese men are currently competing to find wives.
They are called China’s “leftover men,” and their dire situation is attributed to the country’s cultural preference for males and the infamous one-child policy, which resulted to the most imbalanced gender ratio on the face of the planet.
But their competition for wives is more cutthroat thanks to customary dowries, which must be paid to their future brides. Unfortunately, those living in China’s poorest rural villages are immediately disadvantaged.
For instance, 40-year-old Yang Ruiqing from Ning county in Gansu province has been searching for a wife for 18 years, but his life savings of 150,000 yuan ($22,000) falls short. Recently, a single mother with two children asked him for a dowry of 200,000 yuan ($29,000). There were other women who requested far beyond his budget.
Some microeconomics are at play. Li Hiajun, a local matchmaker, said women want to match other dowries they hear of — especially when the price is high.
Quartz noted similar situations netizens posted on Weibo:
“This is my family’s case as my brother paid $22,000 dowry plus a 100,000 yuan ($15,000) car! And I have also been looking for a match through matchmaking for years but to no avail.
“I think I will never be able to pay that dowry and won’t be able to marry since I’ve seen cases that asked for as high as 390,000 yuan ($57,000).”