Do you fancy marrying a Chinese wife? Well, get ready to open your wallet: The average cost of a betrothal gift in China has skyrocketed as women become a rarefied commodity in a country dominated by men.
A recent study published by the People’s Daily says the average cost of the cash gift that a son-in-law is expected to give to the bride’s parents has continued to climb at an alarming rate.
The study gives the example of a man wishing to marry a Beijing bride is expected to pay an average 200,000 yuan (USD 29,000) cash gift up front. As well, Beijing parents expect the prospective groom to purchase an apartment, something that is also becoming tremendously expensive in today’s overheated real estate market.
By comparison, the same study performed four years ago found that potential Beijing grooms were only asked to pay an average betrothal gift of 10,000 yuan (USD 1,450).
According to the study, the steepest rise of betrothal gifts were seen in China’s rural areas located mainly in the country’s western areas. Generally speaking, the poorer the area, the sharper the increase.
The phenomenon is especially prominent in Henan, Shandong, Guizhou, Shaanxi, and Guangxi. So-called “bride prices” in Guizhou jumped from 20,000 yuan from four years ago to 88,000 yuan, while Shaanxi saw a four-year increase from 30,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan.
Betrothal gifts has increased two to five times in value in Hebei. A Baoding middle school teacher named “Xiao’an” (a pseudonym) said the grooms in his city are expected to pay an average cash gift of 150,000 yuan to the bride’s parents at the wedding.
However, the “cost of marriage” is not the same for all parts of China. Eastern and southern areas has seen the cost of betrothal gifts stabilize. The cost in Shanghai has remained the same, while the Guangdong city of Yingde has experienced a 95 percent drop over the last 35 years.
Families may relax their high requirements for a betrothal gift if the groom is also a local, signifying access to grandchildren can be easily met.
With a population of over 1.3 billion, people are a resource that is not lacking in China. And yet, a huge gender imbalance brought on by decades of the one-child policy is expected to create 15 million more men by 2020, and 30 million more by 2050.
Some Chinese men have dealt with the increasing difficulty of finding a wife in China by taking their search overseas. The practice of “mail order brides” has become popular in some Chinese rural areas despite problems such as a wife who can’t speak Mandarin.
Don’t have any money, but still want a Chinese bride?
Because wedding customs vary for China’s minority cultures, some grooms in China don’t give any cash away at all. For instance, Tibet grooms give yaks to the bride’s parents as betrothal gifts, each costing between 8,000 to 10,000 yuan each.
And for all those idealists who think that these betrothal gifts are just a formality, a recent Chinese video would beg to differ.
Uploaded at the beginning of this year, the video shows a Chinese bride in the middle of a wedding ceremony refusing to commit when she discovers the red envelope given to her by the groom’s parents only contained 1,001 yuan instead of the promised 10,001 yuan.
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