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Why Is China Calling Women “Leftovers”?


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More women in their late twenties to early forties are pursuing career achievement rather than getting married and having kids. After decades of the one-child policy, during which families favored having sons, China has found itself with more men than women. Yet, women are still choosing not to get married. The gender disparity itself provides women with more dating options and freedom to forgo a traditional lifestyle (for the time being). 

So what does this mean? Parents are fearful that their daughters may never marry or have kids. Or worse still, they will marry but be too old to have children. Hence, the name “leftover” comes from the idea that these women may not be able to marry when the time is right. It refers to a woman’s “biological clock” and the decreasing fertility rate once a woman reaches the age of 40 - and now might never find a husband. 

In her “China’s Unmarried ‘Leftover’ Women” documentary, Vice journalist Milene Larson, theorizes that the name was coined to pressure career women to marry at a younger age. According to Roseann Lake, author of Leftover in China, despite societal pressure and its attempts to pigeonhole them, many of these women are deciding to marry when they feel ready. 

Watch the “Vice” documentary at the top of this page for more information regarding China’s Leftover Women. 

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Bianca Zhou

Chinosity Newb

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