Many men being priced out of wedded happiness

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Is it necessary for a young man to have an apartment as a prerequisite for marriage? Yes. In China, becoming a husband is not such an easy thing.

There may be a new group of bachelors suffering from unaffordable housing prices.

The housing industry has once again become a "hot pot" at boiling point since early 2009.

Even with subsidies and special government policies, home prices in China's first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are riding the wave of a rising trend along with the fast growing economy rebounding from the downturn during the international financial crisis in 2008.

For those who prefer owning to renting, the housing issue trumps marriage, becoming one of the major obstacles to starting a family.

According to a survey on Chinese people's marriage status in 2010, about 70 percent of women interviewed said that housing, a stable income and some savings were the main prerequisites for marriage.

The survey was jointly released on Dec 15 by the China Association of Marriage and Family Studies, the Committee of Matchmaking Service Industries under the China Association of Social Workers, and China's leading marriage service provider

From the report, we can see that housing is the most important of these issues for would-be brides.

Even the few "feminine extremists" believe an apartment is the standard by which to judge whether a man can be responsible and support his family.

Personality and morals lay outside the top three matrimonial requirements.

Some women and their families hold the traditional position and take it for granted that the home issue should be the male responsibility, which defies the contemporary independent spirit of women and gender equality, which are universal values.

The distorted value of marriage reflects the fact that many women consider marriage as another form of "social welfare".

What is the situation in other countries?

Real estate has always been an issue for people in Europe.

Governments there have come up with a series of tough measures to regulate property markets, such as collecting property taxes. Owners, buyers and renters are all required to pay annual taxes.

In addition, "social housing," similar to China's affordable housing, provided by European authorities as welfare for low- and middle-income groups, can offer ordinary people their own piece of real estate.

Such housing is usually modest-size apartments in tall buildings with 10 or more floors on the outskirts of town, whose main advantage is the low rents.

It seems housing ownership is not a barrier for young people to get married.

In Japan, renting has been the custom for newly-married young couples. Only a few of them can afford to purchase property.

Up to 67 percent of young couples choose to rent, and merely 14.3 percent of the group bought their own house for marriages, according to data from RECRUIT Co Ltd, which is headquartered in Tokyo.

Generally speaking, renters account for most people younger than 40 in Japan.

Above all, young people should be free to enjoy being young, without the huge pressure of trying to buy property.

Home ownership should never be a precondition for a young man to get his bride.

Society should help create an environment in which Chinese men don't feel obliged to own a home before tying the knot.

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