1/3 of single men as 'leftover'

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For more on this issue we are joined in studio by our reporter Neela Eyunni.

Q1: Neela, does it mean there is more bachelors and they will stay single for longer? And is this unique in China?

A1: Well, this is a nationwide trend. But it is more prevalent in some parts of the country. According to a national poll earlier this year Beijing ranked 6th in terms of having the highest percentage of so called "leftover men." One-third of bachelors in the capital city labeled themselves as leftover men. But topping the list was Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with 35 percent of single men categorizing themselves as "leftover." Experts I talked to also say the trend is rapidly increasing in China's villages.

They say that in rural areas women more often want to marry up in society and seek out men with higher paying jobs. As a result they look for men who are living in big cities where salaries are higher. In rural areas bachelors also face more pressure since the average age for marriage is lower compared to in cities. That gives them less time not only to find a partner but also save money to buy what's expected like a house and car.

Q2: Neela, we often hear about China's growing number of single or leftover women as well. So there are both left over men and women but they were left over in different ways?

A2: Yes, while these groups sound similar they are actually seen much differently by society. Single women of marriageable age are often viewed as career driven and independent. But older bachelors have less of a postive reputation. They're sometimes associated with social awkwardness or presumbed to have low standing jobs. From an outsiders perspective it may seem strange to have a large population of what society calls leftover men and leftover women. The big question is why not marry each other.

But this also brings to light the difference in social standing between the two groups. Many single women over the age of 27 have equally high or higher expectations than younger women. Since they are past the average age of marriage they are looking for a partner that has the financial means to settle down. But in recent years the reputaton of leftover men has been improving. One driving force is the growing number of wealthy Chinese who are choosing to be single. As a result this has the potential to change the social norms and perceptions down the road.

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