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Marriage headed for the rocks on mainland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am

Women marry for money and houses, while men wed for passion and looks, according to a countrywide survey of single and divorced mainlanders.

Almost 80 per cent of women interviewed said they would not consider a man who earned less than 4,000 yuan (HK$4,900) a month.

Among them, 27 per cent set their benchmark at 10,000 yuan - that's more than twice the average income in Beijing, one of the wealthiest municipals on the mainland.

The average monthly wage for a Beijing urban resident (not including migrant workers) was 4,201 yuan a month in 2010. In Shanghai, it was 3,896 yuan; in Guangzhou, it was 3,128 per month.

The monthly income for rural residents, who account for more than half of the population, was far lower. A farmer in Gansu province earned an average of 444 yuan a month in the first half of 2011.

A controversial interpretation of the marriage law last year - in which it was ruled that in a divorce, a property bought by one of the couple's parents would go to that child solely - has also had a big impact on the financial arrangements of newlyweds. More than 40 per cent of men buying a house with their own money said they did not want to have their future spouse's name on the ownership certificate. About the same proportion of women said they would ask to have their names on the certificate.

Nearly 51,000 people in all 31 provinces, regions and municipalities responded to the survey, jointly conducted online last year by the Committee of Matchmaking Service Industries, the China Association of Social Workers and baihe.com, one of the biggest Chinese dating websites. There were slightly more male respondents than females. The education of those polled ranged from high-school matriculation to doctoral level. Around two-thirds had never been married, 30 per cent were divorcees, the rest were widowed.

Compared to a similar survey in 2010, women's expectations of men's earning power has risen significantly. The proportion of women who wanted their partner to be earning 10,000 yuan a month rose by almost half, while the proportion who would be content with 2,000 yuan dropped by a third.

More than 68 per cent of women would not marry a man who didn't own a home. Last year more than 70 per cent said a home was a prerequisite, and the drop may be a reflection of uncertainty about the mainland's real estate market, with many observers expecting big price falls.

As for the men, what do they expect from their brides?

Emotional involvement in the relationship ranked the highest, with almost 70 per cent ticking it as one of the three most important elements affecting their choice for a wife. More than 55 per cent also chose looks, making it the second most important criterion. (Only 22 per cent of the women cared much if their future husband was handsome or not.)

The survey, published on the website of baihe.com, also revealed that more than 57 per cent of women believed, or hoped, that marrying a rich husband would enable them to quit their jobs and live easily and happily for the rest of their lives.

Compared to other age groups, women in their 20s had higher expectations of the prospective in-laws, preferring that they be the rich or influential. They also most wanted their partner to own a car. Nevertheless, they were the most willing to share the expenses of dating with their boyfriends.

Single women felt less happy than single men, with about 20 per cent feeling miserable, almost a third higher than males.

Having children is an important purpose of marriage for more than a quarter of the men, but only 16 per cent of women considered child-bearing a duty.

70%

The percentage of men who want their wives to be in love with them

80%

The number of women who put a minimum 4,000 yuan a month salary before love

444 yuan

The average monthly earnings of a farmer in Gansu province

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