China’s “Comfort Class” | The Bling Dynasty, National Geographic Magazine: Love, Marriage and Automobiles in Modern China | Shanghai

Marriage is different in China, from mass weddings like this, to the “bare branches” phenomenon where there are not enough women for all the men to marry. Couples aspire to the ideal of the billboard above them—the one-child family. But will their son be able to find a girl? According to the 2010 census, there were 118.06 boys born for every 100 girls, which is 0.53 points lower than the ratio obtained from a population sample survey carried out in 2005. However, the gender ratio of 118.06 is still beyond the normal range of around 105 percent, and experts warn of increased social instability should this trend continue. For the population born between 1900 and 2000, it is estimated that there could be 35.59 million fewer females than males. So maybe everyone eventually has a car, but can every boy have a girl? It is important for China’s leaders to placate the Comfort Class. From issues of grave consequence to trivialities, the government has made clear that it will do whatever it takes to keep the swelling middle class happy. In Beijing, for example, newly prosperous residents are snapping up automobiles at a rate of 1,000 a day. The number of vehicles on the capital’s sclerotic roads has doubled in the past five years, to 3 million, or about a million more vehicles than in all of New York City.

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