Marriage and Rising Housing Prices in China

April 22, 2012

As a result of the preference for males, China’s one-child policy has significantly impacted the country’s sex ratio. The ratio of males to females is about 6 to 5. The disparity has increased competition in the marriage market. The effect of this imbalance on urban housing prices in China is the topic of a recent paper published in the National Bureau of Economic research. The cutthroat marriage market has boosted home ownership in China because men who own homes are perceived as being more attractive spouses than those who do not share this visible type of wealth. Men must outshine their peers in order to find a wife. The authors find that the sex ratio “accounts for between 30 to 48 percent of the increase in housing prices in China between 2003 to 2009.” However, the rise in housing prices is not uniform throughout China. Housing prices vary according to the local gender imbalance: the higher the imbalance, the higher the housing prices. Despite the increase in housing prices, the number of unmarried men has remained the same, because the number of eligible women has not increased. This is a disheartening conclusion because it proves that regardless of the wealth a man accumulates he may still be unable to find a bride.