How much does it cost a man to get married in China? According to a map of bride prices that has gone viral on Weibo, more than 1 million yuan ($163,193) in Shanghai, and absolutely nothing, for the lucky men marrying women from the mega-municipality of Chongqing.
After three decades of the one-child policy, China now has a highly imbalanced male-female ratio. As a result, by 2020, an estimated 24 million Chinese men will be left without potential mates. In that sense, women of a marriageable age have become more valuable – and the bride price they command has risen accordingly.
Bride price is the “gift” given to a bride’s parents to receive their permission for marriage. It's the opposite of the dowry paid by the bride's family in many other cultures.
A map that has become viral on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, details the bride prices in different regions of China. Topping the list, in the millions category, are Shanghai and Tianjin, both major cities and directly controlled by the central government.
The bride price in each city is a house along with at least 100,000 yuan and 60,000 yuan respectively. Because housing is notoriously expensive in major cities, the total bride price amounts to more than 1 million yuan, an astronomical figure considering the average annual salary of Shanghai residents is only 52,655.
Three regions are in the 500,000 yuan category. In the three provinces in the northeast, a bride price is 68,000 yuan; three pieces of gold jewelry; 9,999 yuan for the bride to call the bridegroom’s parents her own; and a house. In Jiangxi and Qinghai provinces, the bride price is a house plus at least 38,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan respectively.
There are also significant differences in some provinces between rural and urban areas. In Zhejiang, for example, which is in the 100,000 yuan level, the rural bride price is 100,000 yuan, while the urban is at least 150,000.
Bride price also depends on the culture of a province. In Inner Mongolia, a province that is still largely pastoral, the average pride price is 8,888 yuan, cows in a multiple of nine (which is an auspicious number meaning forever in Chinese), a wardrobe and three pieces of gold jewelry.
Because bride price is paid to a bride’s parents, usually the bride’s hometown customs dictate how much a groom has to pay.
Who are the luckiest men in terms of bride prices? The men seeking to marry girls from the city of Chongqing, a municipality directly controlled by the central government, physically located in Sichuan province. There is no bride price at all there -- love is absolutely free.
After the map went viral, many men are now asking online if there are girls from Chongqing who would be willing to marry them.