Sexual Imbalance and the Marriage Squeeze (part three)
The imbalance in the cities is less dramatic, but still troubling. Nationwide, only about 4% of all Chinese between the ages of 28 and 49 are unmarried, but of that group of singles, almost all (94% to be precise) are men.
Understandably, marriageable women have definitely become a hot commodity. This has given them the power, if they choose to use it, to decide whom they will marry and under what conditions. Thus, discrimination against females, manifested in the low rate of female births, has had the paradoxical result of increasing the influence and desirability of women.
Women are taking advantage of the demand for bride by migrating to wealthier regions, where eager, potential husbands wait, offering a life better than the one back home. According to census figures, between 1985 and 1990 0ver 4 million women migrated in order to get married, compared to only about 400,000 men who migrated for the same reason. How do these potential brides and grooms find each other? Lonely heart ads in newspapers and magazines have become popular. The ads, placed mostly by men, read much the same: there is information about the man’s age; his housing situation; whether he has been married before, and if so whether he has children and his height. Matches are also arranged by relatives or friends who are living and working away from home, and by impatient singles themselves.