Marriage markets and the leftover women of China

On this Monsoon Podcast, Karen Zhang explores the many pressures that unmarried urban women in China face today, at a familial, societal and governmental level.

What makes the ‘perfect woman,’ the ‘perfect relationship,’ and the ‘perfect marriage’ in China today?

In recent years, an emerging class of highly educated, highly skilled and career-driven young women in urban China have been able to relish in new opportunities to find greater financial independence and autonomy.

However, the ongoing pressure on young women to marry continues to marginalise Chinese woman, so much so that a label has emerged, describing unmarried women aged 27 or older as ‘shengnu’, meaning ‘leftover women.’

In a society where traditional family values and ideas of marriage still hold strong, where does this leave Chinese women?

Dr Jane Golley is an Associate Professor at the Australian National University and economist, and is currently the Acting Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World. Jane is also the co-editor of the China Story Yearbook series and her research has investigated various topics regarding the Chinese economy and gender inequalities in education and earnings.

Yixiao Zhou is a Research Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy. Her research is focused on economic growth, innovation, automation, and inequalities in opportunity. Together with Jane, Yixiao has also conducted extensive research into gender inequality in China’s workforce and economy. Yixiao holds a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University.

Feature image source: Jamie Street on Unsplash

Music: Kevin Macleod

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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