Low wages come in the way of finding a mate

Updated: 2011-12-09 13:55

By He Dan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - "When will you bring back a daughter-in-law for us?" is the question uppermost on Xie Kaiqiang's parents' minds. Their son has been working in the capital city for five years and is still single.

With a slender monthly wage of 1,800 yuan ($283), Xie feels he is too poor to start a relationship with a girl.

"I can barely save any money after paying the rent," said the 23-year-old from a village in Changzhi city in North China's Shanxi province, who works as a property administration clerk for a community in Beijing.

"Girls in big cities are all realistic, so I dare not assume that any of them would want to date a man who can't afford taking her out to dine at a restaurant or watch the latest movie in a cinema," Xie said.

A recent survey proved that Xie's case was typical among young migrant workers, especially men. More than half the male migrant workers polled said they were not confident to start a relationship due to low payment.

The survey showed migrant workers earned about 2,150 yuan on average, which was 1,700 yuan less than their expectation.

The Chinese Research Society of Family Culture, an institute affiliated to the All-China Women's Federation, on Thursday published the survey that polled more than 2,500 migrant workers in 16 cities.

The fact that these lonely hearts were often introverts by nature who were made to work long hours also came in the way of their finding love and marriage, the survey showed.

The survey also indicated that migrant workers were more into workplace romance, as nearly one-third said they met their partners at work.

The other two ways most of them found their mates was either by developing a friendship forged in childhood or youth into love and matchmaking via parents and relatives, the poll said.

It also showed that more than 40 percent of the married respondents were not able to live together with their spouses. The most common reason being that one of the spouses was usually left behind in the village to take care of the children.

The poll also found out that less than 43 percent of migrant workers' children lived with both parents.

Nearly 40 percent was left behind in villages and under the care of their grandparents, while the rest lived with one parent, the survey said.

Zhi Zhi, a mother of two children and the only breadwinner of her family, had lived alone in Beijing for more than eight years.

"I gave birth to my daughter last year and returned to Beijing a few days after the delivery," she said.

"I knew breast feeding was the best for a baby, but I had to get back to work as the whole family would starve if I stayed longer at home to feed her," said the 31-year-old waitress at a restaurant.

Married migrant workers also said that the lack of affordable housing, high tuition fees charged at public schools or kindergartens where they might want to put their children, and insufficient social insurance were the top three challenges to their lives in cities, according to the survey.

Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Rural Development Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, urged the decision-makers in cities to not exclude migrant workers from applying for low-cost government housing, given the exorbitant house rents charged in cities.

The government should also consider giving up attaching hukou, or permanent residence permit, as a precondition for city residents to enjoy social welfare and public services, as the majority of migrant workers were not able to get a hukou in cities, he said.