According to census statistics, the "single" population has exceeded one million in Beijing and Shanghai presently. In 1990, however, the number of single men and women in the 30-50 age bracket was only about 100,000 in Beijing. Experts pointed out that China's third "single" wave is approaching.
The first "single" wave of the People's Republic of China occurred in the 1950s. In an era of revolution, many people had no time or energy to think of love and marriage, and some people chose to accept marriage arranged by their parents. Issuance of China's first Marriage Law in May 1950 consequently stirred up a wave of divorce that flooded the entire country.
The second "single" wave came in the late 1970s. After the Cultural Revolution, numerous learned youths returned to cities and speedily formed a huge group of single men and women in their late twenties or thirties. Most of them were women, because many learned men chose to marry a local girl but learned women from big cities found it hard to accept young men in local areas and would rather remain single.
In contrast, today's "single" wave is mainly composed of high-income busy professional men and women 28 to 38 years old with lots of diversions and high expectations of life. To remain single is becoming a prominent value orientation and a preference of life for individuals instead of a choice based on inferior personal terms.
Love and marriage of the young in small and medium-sized cities around China has not spawned so-called marriage crises. In those cities, people feel less pressure from life and competition. They are used to a steady-going world and would naturally hope for marriage and stable life. They also face fewer temptations accordingly, and they do not have such high-sounding, sometimes flaky, dreams as youths in big cities, but have more down-to-earth goals.
(China Daily March 9, 2006)