A county in northern China is collecting information from singles to build an official database for matchmaking purposes, a local official said as the nation faces dire demographic prospects . In response to a citizen’s question on the official “Message Board for Leaders” website operated by People.cn, the party boss of Luanzhou in the northern province of Hebei said the county had been distributing application forms for matchmaking activities since November 18. “Single youths fill in personal information – such as name, gender, age, job, economic status, family situation, etc – to establish a database for single youths, to better serve them in terms of dating and marriage,” said the response from Li Jianzhong. Additionally, the county of 520,000 people has set up three “matchmaking corners” in high-traffic areas such as parks and zoos. These serve as a sort of marriage market where people – usually the parents of single children – may put up posters with personal information on display, in an attempt to find a suitable spouse. While struggling to cope with its rapidly ageing population, the world’s second-largest economy has also been grappling with a declining marriage rate and birth rate. The number of marriages in China has dropped for seven consecutive years. In 2020, 8.13 million couples registered for marriage, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the downward trend. The figure fell 12 per cent from 2019 and was down 40 per cent from its 2013 peak. As a proportion of the overall population, the number of people getting married in China in 2019 stood at 6.6 per 1,000 people, compared with 9.9 in 2013. And even though China ended its decades-old one-child policy in 2016 to combat its shrinking working-age population, the country still recorded a historically low fertility rate – the average number of children each woman will have – of 1.3 last year, according to the national census data released in May. That rate is below the 1.5 mark that usually heralds a population decline. The country further eased up on its birth restrictions this year by allowing couples to have up to three children . Facing skyrocketing property prices and high living costs, especially in big cities, young Chinese are also becoming increasingly reluctant to get married. A recent nationwide survey involving nearly 3,000 unmarried people aged 18-26 showed that a quarter of them were “not sure” when asked if they would get married at some point in the future, while 8.9 per cent said they would not. This tendency appears to be more pronounced among women, 44 per cent of whom said they did not think they would get married or did not want to, compared with 19 per cent among men, according to the survey published in the official Guangming Daily in October.