Choosing a Marriage Partner in China

July 30, 2006 Updated: July 30, 2006

July 31 is the traditional Valentine's Day in China. The 2006 Love and Marriage Survey was recently published in China, which indicated that when choosing a potential marriage partner, 66.6 percent of Chinese people believe “intuition” is the most important factor. Also, men put emphasis on the female's appearance, while women put more weight on the male's social and financial status.

State-run media in China reported that the survey was conducted among residents in the larger cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Harbin, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Kunming, and Xian. The questionnaire asked people's opinions on love and marriage, and their views on behaviour such as sex before marriage, adultery, one-night stands, homosexuality, etc.

Respondents indicated that the second most important factor is “coping skills” including taking care of family responsibilities; 66.3 percent of participants chose this as their number one criterion. Only 36.4 percent of participants considered financial status and income as the most important factor in a marriage partner.

Although less than 40 percent of participants view financial status as the most important factor, the survey showed that there is a positive correlation between people's incomes and satisfaction in their marriages. People that are least satisfied with their marriages are those who's incomes are less than 500 yuan per month. The survey also showed that appearance, height, and education level are the three least important factors when choosing a partner; this indicates that the younger generation has less traditional views on love and marriage.

The survey also showed important differences between men and women when choosing a partner; 47.8 percent of women participants view financial situation and income as an important factor, while only 22.9 percent of men chose it. 25.76 percent of men chose appearance as an important consideration while only 10.22 percent of women chose it. This indicates that men tend to emphasize appearance and women emphasize financial and social status when selecting a partner for marriage.

More than half of the participants were not in favor of sex before marriage or of one night stands. Adultery was viewed as a severe impediment to a successful marriage, with 77 percent of participants stating that they do not approve of adultery.

As to the hottest present for Valentine's Day: red beans and roses are the top choices. The researcher pointed out that while roses represent love in the west, red beans represent love in Chinese tradition.

The survey organizers said they will repeat the survey each year in the future. A five or fifteen year comparison of the survey results will clearly indicate trends in the Chinese people's views on love and marriage.