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New Study Finds Almost Half of China’s Gen Zers Want To Stay Single

China’s youth see the wisdom of being single over the stress of relationships, as shown by a new survey that found 42% of Gen Zers are OK with being alone

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5:49 AM HKT, Mon April 17, 2023 2 mins read

It seems that solo lifestyles are rising in China: 42% of China’s youth were not looking for a relationship, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ 2022 Report on the Mental Health of College Students.

About 80,000 college students hailing from 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities participated in the survey. The Institute of Psychology, a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, oversaw the study and asked students about depression and anxiety, as well as several other factors that contribute to mental health, such as stress levels, sleep quality, and romance.

The findings that went viral on social media, though, were the ones about love. Of the students, 41.93% were single and wanted to stay single, 27.61% were in relationships, and 25.40% were single but seeking a relationship. (The remainder did not answer).

However, the report did find that students in relationships had the lowest rates of depression and relatively low rates of anxiety. It’s unclear, though, if this results from being in a relationship or if people in relationships are a self-selecting group that experiences these conditions at a lower rate.

The findings of this survey are seemingly in opposition to a 2021 survey by Tantan, a Tinder-like dating app in China, which found that the majority of China’s Gen Z — about 70% of men and 45% of women — was looking for love.

But the two results may not be mutually exclusive.

“Choosing to be single doesn’t mean you don’t want to find true love,” one blogger wrote on Weibo. “In fact, many college students still hope to find their true love and form a stable, long-term relationship. It’s just that they pay more attention to the quality of love rather than quantity and frequency.”

The survey has stirred up much discussion online. Some commentators believe that students should have other priorities than love, like their studies and future careers; others argue that if people in relationships have lower rates of depression and anxiety, love can be beneficial.

Dating Is Too Expensive

“I spend all my time praying for wealth; I do not have energy for relationships.” This refrain has been circulating on the internet as an explanation for Gen Z’s disinterest in relationships.

Facing a cutthroat job market and high unemployment, many people believe they cannot afford to be in a relationship, let alone get married.

One person wrote on Weibo, “The cost of being in love is too high now. Hanging out casually and eating a meal will cost you a lot, hundreds or even thousands [of RMB].”

Additionally, China’s young women are increasingly independent and looking for successful careers.

“It’s refreshing to be alone,” wrote another Weibo user. “You don’t have to think about how to make your husband and children happy every day, and you don’t have to pay for the huge expenses brought about by marriage and childcare.”

A Worrying Sign?

However, the reluctance to be in relationships or form families has worried some. As data shows, the average marriage age in some Chinese provinces in 2022 reached 30, as opposed to an average age of 24 in 2010.

Moreover, the number of marriages in the country hit a record low in 2021, and the birth rate has been plummeting.

Last year, China saw its first population decline in six decades, a concern for an aging country that needs a young workforce to maintain economic growth, pensions, and healthcare systems. Thus, the fact that a plurality of Gen Z is looking to stay single, at least for now, might become a problem.

The government has made efforts to mitigate the decline in marriages and the birth rate. For example, in the 2022 National People’s Congress plenary meeting, a representative proposed encouraging marriage and pregnancy for graduate students. This year, nine vocational colleges gave their students a week off to “enjoy love.”

Other measures the government has implemented are a ‘three-child policy,’ which allows couples to have up to three children, as well as a 30-day cooling-off period for couples looking to get a divorce.

Cover image via Depositphotos

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