BEIJING - China has a bride shortage. Three decades after the controversial one-child policy, millions of men of marrying age cannot find spouses.
Some desperate families even rely on human traffickers to find their sons a bride. Others are flocking to online dating sites in search of love.
The site www.95195.com is one of Beijing's fastest growing dating companies.
On a recent Friday afternoon, 21-year-old Chang Ne Yung left work early to visit the offices of 95195.com.
"I'm here with my mother to look for a wife," Chang told CBN News.
Online Dating Sites Flourish
Inside the office are wall-to-wall pictures of women also looking for a spouse.
"I never considered doing it this way," admitted Chang. "But this is how many people nowadays are looking for a soul mate."
After filling out a few personal details, getting his picture taken, and paying a small registration fee, his profile will soon hang on the walls among the hundreds of other men hoping to catch the eye of some lucky lady.
"We have a good success rate matching potential couples but the truth is that it is very difficult for men to find a woman," said Gao Sheng who manages the dating company. "The competition for spouses is tough."
China's Gender Imbalance
Here's why: There are 122 baby boys born each year in China for every 100 girls. The normal ratio is 105 boys born for every 100 girls.
And the gender ratio is only getting worse. Chinese government figures show by 2020 there will be close to 40 million more men 19-years and younger than women. That's more than Canada's entire population.
"I worry about this and so do many of my male friends who are in the same boat," one Beijing resident said.
The problem started in 1980 when China launched its controversial "one-child" policy. The aim: limit births to one child per couple and keep the country's population below 1.2 billion. The government claims the policy has prevented 400 million births.
"But the consequences of this social experiment have touched every Chinese household," one concerned citizen said.
The centuries-old preference for boys, coupled with the millions of aborted female fetuses, puts China at the top of countries where boys outnumber girls.
Those fortunate to find love insist changes must be made.
"If not the long-term implications are going to be devastating," said one groom who was taking wedding pictures with his new bride.
Bride Shortage Fuels Trafficking
Even the government is beginning to realize that this is a huge problem. A couple of years ago China's state population commission said the following: "The increasingly difficulties men face finding wives may lead to social instability."
In some parts of rural China there are villages that literally have no women. Families become desperate.
So thousands of women are kidnapped and trafficked into China each year and many sold to families whose sons cannot find brides.
"This is a very serious problem and one of many unintended consequences of the one-child policy," warned
China Gets Older
And the latest census numbers reveal another unintended consequence: China's aging population.
Those 60 years old and over make up more than 13 percent of the population. That's up nearly three percent since 2000.
Those over 65 account for nearly 9 percent, compared with seven percent 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, people under 14 are now less than 17 percent of the population, down from 23 percent 10 years ago.
Analysts worry a graying China could shrink the labor force and slow the nation's economic growth. Goldman Sachs said the potential for China getting older "before getting rich" is very real.
"We are facing the problem of an aging population," said Ma Jiantang, who works for China's National Bureau of Statistics. "It was more pronounced in coastal areas and in the more developed regions with large populations."
The census figures, growing gender imbalance, and bride shortages have some calling for China to move to a "two-child" policy.
"People must have the opportunity to have more children if they choose to," one woman said.
But China's leaders aren't convinced, vowing in late April to maintain the status quo.
Meanwhile, back at 95195.com's office in Beijing, Chang Ne Yung looks through the pictures. No one has caught his attention today. But he says he'll keep trying until he finds someone or someone finds him.
"It might take a while," he said. "But I'm willing to wait."