Study: Gender Imbalance Chief Culprit of Rocketing Housing Prices

July 17, 2013
Editor: Sun Xi
China's sex ratio is thought to be fueling the rise in house prices. [China Daily]

China's sex ratio is thought to be fueling the rise in house prices. [China Daily]

Mainland China's gender imbalance has fueled the rise in housing prices for years, says a university study.

According to a study by Shang-Jin Wei of Columbia University, Xiaobo Zhang of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Yin Liu of Tsinghua University, the increase in China's sex ratio, and thus the heightened competition for brides, can explain up to 48 percent of the rise in urban home prices from 2003 to 2009.

According to census data, China's sex ratio at birth was 106 males to every 100 females in the year 1980, only slightly above the natural rate of 103 to 107. However, in 1997 the ratio was 122 males to 100 females.

These babies are now at a marriageable age and there is a very competitive marriage market as theoretically, one in every nine men will end up wifeless.

The study shows that as education and material wealth levels rise in mainland China, owning a bachelor's degree and stable income does not give men the advantage in the marriage market that it used to.

The study cited a 2012 survey result from the Horizon Research & Consultancy Group, a market research agency, which states that three quarters of unmarried urban women in mainland cities consider a man's house purchasing power as a very important factor in deciding whether to marry the man.

Besides a man's house purchasing ability, Chinese women are more likely than women in the West to marry men who are better educated than them.

According to Yue Qian, a Ph.D candidate at Ohio State University, 55 percent of university-educated Chinese men marry a less educated spouse, whereas only 32 percent of university-educated Chinese women do the same.

One well-educated woman, quoted by Mary Kay Magistad, an award-winning American journalist and correspondent, in a piece for Public Radio International, explains the equilibrium that results: "There is an opinion that A quality guys will find B quality women, B quality guys will find C quality women, and C quality men will find D quality women...The people left are A quality women and D quality men."

Despite all this, buying property is still one of the most popular ways in China to make a man more desirable.

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