Love lives of Chinese men suffer from housing boom
In China's big cities, real estate's expensive and young women are in short supply. If the population spread more evenly into cheaper parts of the country, would it be easier for a guy to get a date?
[Editor's note: The author updated this post 4/16/11.]Skip to next paragraph
Mathew is an economics professor at UCLA and has written three books: Green Cities (Brookings Institution Press); Heroes and Cowards (Princeton University Press, jointly with Dora L. Costa); and in fall 2010, Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter World (Basic Books).
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China's urban marriage market is taking some predictable turns as young women are in scarce supply. This article argues that the young women have the bargaining power and they want to date a man with a car and his own apartment. In the big cities, housing is so expensive that many young men can't afford their own apartment.
Here is an excerpt from the original New York Times article:
“Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find a wife,” said Mr. Wang, who lives with his parents, retired factory workers who remind him of his single status with nagging regularity. “I feel like a loser.”
There have been many undesirable repercussions of China’s unrelenting real estate boom, which has driven prices up by 140 percent nationwide since 2007, and by as much as 800 percent in Beijing over the past eight years. Working-class buyers have been frozen out of the market while an estimated 65 million apartments across the country bought as speculative investments sit empty.
So, the urban economists have a simple solution to this matter of the heart. China needs an "escape valve". In the United States, hundreds of millions of people have sought out new cheap housing in "new cities" and have been happy to settle in such places as Tampa, Dallas, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These folks can travel to the "Superstar Cities" on the coasts or merely watch Kobe and Jerry Seinfeld on TV. They have been free to choose to locate in a less expensive city and thus to be able to afford more housing.
Yes, Shanghai and Beijing are tremendously costly but within a system of cities with easy cross-city migration --- why won't new cities arise that are analogous to Houston or Las Vegas? One answer is that the powerful state may slow down this migration (either intentionally or unintentionally). In a free market capitalist economy, firms follow people and people follow jobs. If both firms and people want cheap land then they can co-ordinate and locate in a Las Vegas.