Move designed to boost country’s falling birth rate and, long-term, level the gender and demographic imbalance
Chinese firms are giving single female employees over the age of 30 an additional eight days of annual “dating leave”, in a bid to boost the country’s falling birth rate.
Hangzhou Songcheng Performance and Hangzhou Songcheng Tourism Management have said unmarried women over 30 in “non-frontline” roles would be granted an extra eight days of leave over the Chinese New Year to “go home and date”.
It follows reports a high school in Hangzhou, in eastern China, rolled out a new policy to give single, stressed-out teachers an additional two days off every month of “love leave” to relax and help boost staff morale.
“Single women over thirty are commonly regarded as ‘leftover women’ in China due to long-held conservative beliefs that women who remain unmarried beyond their mid-twenties are less desirable to men,” reports the South China Morning Post.
“But a burgeoning middle class and diversifying economy has led to a growing number of Chinese women focusing on their careers and choosing to marry later – or staying single altogether,” says the Daily Telegraph.
According to a recent survey by LinkedIn China and L’Oreal China, nearly 80% of women born after 1995 choose to describe themselves as “economically independent”, compared to just over 20% who ticked the traditional “loving wife and mother” option.
Yet this dramatic culture shift is putting a strain on China’s population demographics.
Data from the Ministry for Civil Affairs shows there were more than 200 million single adults in China in 2015 and the marriage rate has fallen every year since 2013.
More worrying for Chinese authorities, birth rates have also continued to drop despite the abolition of the one-child policy in 2015. Last year there were just over 15 million live births, down by more than two million from the year before.
This has led to growing concern an aging society and shrinking workforce will hurt future economic growth prospects.
Officials fear the falling number of younger workers will make the country less appealing to international corporations as a manufacturing hub.
At the same time, China’s Global Times notes that women are also avid consumers, meaning the more women in China, the more demand power that China can have over companies seeking to sell their products.
“They’re keen to travel abroad, buy healthcare products, invest in gold and acquire housing,” the state-run newspaper notes. “China is in the midst of a boom in outbound tourism, and it’s people like the dama [middle-aged women] and the rising ranks of retirees who have contributed a lot to tourism growth.”