The expensive pre-wedding gifts required by prospective brides make it difficult for many men in Pingliang and Qingyang, cities in Gansu province, to afford to get married, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.
The expected value of pre-wedding gifts to prospective brides and their parents have increased in recent years to more than 100,000 yuan (S$20,500), and even more than 300,000 yuan in some places.
However, official data shows the average net annual income of local rural residents in 2012 was only 4,210 yuan, meaning a villager would have to save for more 23 years without any other spending to afford the expensive gifts.
A decrease in China's fertility rate partly contributed to the rising cost of pre-wedding gifts, said social experts, as women's parents have to rely on the gifts to support them in their old age after their daughter leaves them to marry.
Local people believe that a woman who gets more pre-wedding gifts is considered virtuous and beautiful and the expensive gifts have become a serious social problem as some rural men have to borrow money to prepare for marriage and once again become poor after paying sky-high wedding costs.
Some poverty-stricken families cannot afford the high cost, forcing such sons to never marry.