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Money for the bride a real burden

[ 2013-10-22 09:36] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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"How much does a wife cost in your province?" This seemingly ridiculous question was part of the greeting for many people during the just concluded "Golden Week" National Day holiday. Incidentally, the National Day holiday is the peak season for weddings in China.

According to Chinese tradition, a groom usually pays a certain amount of money to the bride's family to fix a marriage. The practice is prevalent throughout the country. A recent Beijing News survey shows that 89.1 percent of the newly married couples abided by the tradition.

In most cases, the amount men (or their families) have to pay the women's families is too big for most to afford. According to media reports and micro-bloggers, the "price" of marrying varies from 60,000 yuan ($9,804) to 100,000 yuan in central and western regions; it could be more than 100,000 yuan in most coastal provinces. Compare this with the average annual salary of 46,769 yuan in public enterprises and 28,752 in private ones in China in 2012.

The endowment amount is even higher in certain developed regions. For example, in provinces like Guangdong, a would-be groom must gift a gold necklace, gold ring and gold bracelet apart from the endowment money to the would-be bride's family. In cities like Beijing and Shanghai, a man could also be expected to purchase an apartment before marriage, and even a tiny apartment costs more than 1 million yuan. Add to that the price of a car in some cases.

In some parts of eastern Shandong province, the endowment money is measured by weight. For instance, to marry a woman, one must pay her parents at least 1.5 kilograms of 100 yuan notes, which would add up to at least 131,000 yuan, according to some bankers.

Endowment may be part of Chinese tradition, but the standards have become so high in recent years that a majority of families are finding it difficult to meet them. Besides, many newly married couples are forced to host extravagant wedding ceremonies to keep up with the Joneses and, in the process, run up huge debts that could turn their married life sour, at least in the initial phase.

Rapidly rising living cost is the primary cause of rising endowment amounts. For most young people, marriage means setting up home independent of their parents, which has become increasingly difficult given the constantly rising prices of almost everything. Complicating young couples' problems is the deeply rooted tradition that a family needs its own home, which is becoming a mission impossible for many because of skyrocketing housing prices. No wonder, most newly (or to be) married couples turn to their parents for help.

The Beijing News survey shows that 75.7 percent of newly married women's families give the endowment amount, adding some from their own savings in many cases, to their daughters to help the new couple to fulfill their initial financial needs.

Many parents save every penny for their children's wedding, even though their own weddings were simple affairs with little involvement of money. And not surprisingly, their frugal wedding ceremonies didn't have any bearing on their married life.

In contrast, luxurious weddings are no insurance for a sound marriage. China's divorce rate has been rising for seven successive years. Worse, the percentage of divorced couples aged between 35 and 22 is increasing, and "lightning divorce", that is, within one year of marriage, is no longer rare.

Given the rapid rate of urbanization, more young people born in rural areas or small cities are living and getting married in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where wedding expenses have shot through the roof. The high endowment amounts often rob grooms' parents of their life's savings and causes family disputes. Just google "gift (endowment) money" and you will find all kinds of family disputes that it has caused.

When will the practice change? Nobody knows. Hopefully, with people's income rising and the gap between urban and rural areas narrowing, the burden will become bearable for more families.

By Zhang Zhouxiang ( China Daily)
















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(译者 MrsCoffee 编辑 丹妮)