It’s more of a “bring the whole tribe together” affair, but only makes sense in villages when food and labor was cheap. But that was within the grandparents’ and parents’ lifetimes so it still lingers around, only now it’s a status symbol to show how well you’ve made it, and of course, some (most?) people choose to over extend themselves and choose to show off to the tribe rather than invest in their own future. Especially since the “tribe” is further and further away from the original rural villages which were geographically next to each other.
The new tribes are split along educational and wealth boundaries, so anyone who thinks wasting money entertaining the tribe will help keep them in it is sorely mistaken.
And it's not just you inviting people, but your parents and their parents.
It's not uncommon to actually not know 2/3s of the people at your wedding.
The best part however is that each guest will give you a "red envelope" of money. It's basically the wedding gift. The more people you invite, the more money you can possibly make (even after the expenses of the wedding).
This money is then used for the new coupe to start their family.
For distant relatives no gift is expected, but people do give cash(1000rs avg). For close relatives it's mostly gold. You are supposed to return equal or more than you received for your sons/daughters marriage. It can average 8gms of 22k gold (cost upto 30000rs) which is not a small amount.
Also all of these varies between states, religions and caste. For e.g no one expects dowry in West Bengal while in neighbouring state you are expected to give hefty dowries.
My father in law has lived all his life in the same city. Has a lot of friends, acquaintances, and relatives. Inviting them to the wedding becomes a social compulsion in such cases.
Indian weddings are strange in that the bride and groom hardly matter. It's essentially an event hosted by their parents.
Trying to get my parents to back down from a big wedding was a futile exercise as well. For them, it was a matter of "shame" if they couldn't host a large wedding
I had 8 guests at my marriage and reception (France, 1995). It was purely by choice (no money constraints involved) and while the parents were a bit surprised, their opinion is that it was our marriage, not theirs.
This is unusual but when I mention that people are either indifferent or curious. Nobody takes this as "socially degrading" (for lack of a better expression)
One friend's parents sold off their car to fund their daughter's wedding
It's honestly all absurd
My wife and I eloped and were married for a total of $270 in Las Vegas (25 years ago). It is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I have heard lots of people complain that they spent too much time, money and psychological goodwill on their elaborate marriage events, but I have never heard someone say they regretted a simple inexpensive wedding.
Of course the stats above are the land of correlations-not-causations; larger bed may mean financially more stable therefore more independant and less dependent on the partner’s income, or similar. Still fun ;)
Extreme gender imbalances are societally destabilizing, and the Chinese government, which is obsessed with social stability, should have reacted much faster once it noticed the gender gap in newborns. Now, it's too late, and a generation will be unhappy.
China is lucky in that they border a country with the opposite problem :
> One feature of the Russian-Chinese relationship seemed especially telling: Cross-border marriages are overwhelmingly between Chinese men and Russian women. Much of this has to do with demographics—Russia has a surplus of women, while China has too many men.
In addition, the demographics issue might be overstated as many of the 'missing women' started to be 'found' once they turned 18 and needed to officially register with the government :
> The researchers believe local government officials informally worked with farmers and acknowledged that they couldn't fully enforce the one-child policy. Instead they made tacit agreements in allowing families to have extra children in exchange for social stability in their communities. The cadres, or local governments, would then under-report “out of plan” births that ultimately influenced the national population statistics.
> To supplement the qualitative data, the researchers then examined Chinese population data by cohort, and they compared the number of children born in 1990 with the number of 20-year-old Chinese men and women in 2010. In that cohort, they discovered 4 million additional people, and of those there were approximately 1 million more women than men.
> "If we go over a course of 25 years, it's possible there are about 25 million women in the statistics that weren't there at birth," Kennedy said.
One of biggest issues with the 1-child policy is that it affected the middle class much more severely than the ultra-wealth and the rural countryfolk,
> Min was born in 1986, six years after the one-child policy came into effect. She is the second of five children, a reflection of lax enforcement of family planning in the Hebei farming village where she grew up. (Min's father told me that one family in the village had six children; another man, who had fathered seven children, had been the village chief.)
> Min herself, along with everyone she knows, has two children.
> When history's largest social experiment in state-regulated childbearing comes to an end, it will have been borne disproportionately by the Chinese urban middle-class. The elaborate machinery built to enforce these policies barely touched Min at all. She was ignored by the government, living at the margins--in China, that's often the best place to be.
Why are girls more likely to be the hidden children, though? Does cultural preference for a son mean "well, he's the favorite anyway, may as well make it official"?
If the firstborn is a girl, the parents might try to have more kids until they have a boy. And if their family registry already says they have a kid, they might run into some bureaucratic issues that might prevent them from having more kids.
If their firstborn is a boy, they will just register him. And if they choose to have more kids after that, be it a girl or a boy, they are forced to leave them off the family registry. In this case, since they already have a son, they might not be too worried about running into issues.
Imagine what will happen in Northern Europe after the large influx of asian single men who will want to marry in a few years.
China - 114 men for 100 women (wikipedia)
Sweden - 123 men for 100 women (BBC)
(I am not sure how much it proves or disproved theory.)
Women as moral citizens
As a “colonial frontier”, New Zealand had a surplus of men, especially in resource towns. Pragmatically, this placed a premium on women for their part as wives, mothers and moral compasses.
There was a fear of a chaotic frontier full of marauding single men. This colonial context saw conservative men who supported family values supporting suffrage. During the 1880s, depression and its accompanying poverty, sexual licence and drunken disorder further enhanced women’s value as settling maternal figures. Women voters promised a stabilising effect on society.
1.) Culturally, there was a broad understanding that males remain within their birth family lineages, whereas women leave and join their husband's family.
2.) Male children were expected to provide for their parents in old age, whereas (again if I recall correctly) it was customary to offer a dowry when female children were married.
3.) As a result wealth tended to transfer from female-heavy lineages to male-heavy lineages.
4.) When new land was available, or technology or new crops could make old land more productive, this effect was manageable, but increased pressure when population butted up against technical limits of agriculture, so that additional new arable land (wealth) could not be easily made available. Particularly when infrastructure and ecological failures strained or reduced the capacity of productive land. In that more zero-sum environment, male children were correspondingly more valuable, and there were upticks in female infanticide.
There's another dynamic in play with regards to the Chinese bureaucratic governmental system, which only men could take advantage of - in the archtypical system, entry into the bureacratic class was at least nominally meritocratic, and through grueling work and education, one could become eligible to take and pass the examinations to gain the bureaucratic degrees, which conferred massive benefits, which were again expected to accrue to not only the newly-minted official, but their family groups. So there are instances of family lineages and even entire villages pooling their resources behind a favored son, investing massively in classical education in hopes of hitting the lottery that way.
I've often wondered to what extent it explains the situation in Afghanistan. If there is a shortage of women anyway due to poor healthcare and other factors, and some men get to have multiple wives, what do the other men do?
These bride costs should be allowed to climb infinitely, because it will serve as an incentive for families to have girls - and actually sex-selectively abort boys.
Unfortunately we are seeing all this in the West, where Asian migrants to countries like Australia are still selectively aborting girls. The difference is that other ethnicities are not, so those Asian boys can then grow up to marry girls from other communities, and a female shortage is pushed onto the whole of society. Its basically a tragedy of the commons.
Wow, a market correction to counteract societal undervaluation of females. If it could happen that would be profoundly constructive, but attitudes about gender are durable. It's not hard to imagine that instead of letting the price rise to incentivize an increase in supply, we could see see price fixing and rationing instead: the exertion of greater control over scarce resources and backwards progress in women's rights.
Besides a great deal of the reasons the girls were aborted or killed were because in China a parent can count only on the support of their sons, not because Chinese parents don't love their daughters.
For example, by enacting laws which retard women's economic and geographic mobility, so that fewer are able to leave the local market.
> not because Chinese parents don't love their daughters.
Devaluation of women as a class is entirely compatible with love for individuals.
And migration is ongoing - so the effects will continually be felt. Its not as if the intake is a once-off. I think its grounds enough to only allow female immigrants from these problem countries, in order to balance out the population.
Eh? Wouldn't parents demand a risk discount for paying up?
Taking into account all the abuse she had to take from them, and their lazy and useless way of life, they're not getting a penny from me.
Many people though feel powerless to resist and ruin themselves financially by paying it.
Some unsolicited advice, because internet: I really hope you understand what you're getting yourself into. I have no idea how familiar you are with Chinese culture, but be aware that family, especially parents, are very important in China. I'm sure you heard the "in China, you're not marrying a person, but a family" thing before. It really is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture, so depending on at which age and for how long she has lived in the West, despite her parents treating her bad, she might still feel a great urge to abide by her parents and pull an emergency bailout.
Even if she decides to cut ties with her family, which might very well happen if you don't pay a dime and make her parents lose face, keep in mind that now you need to be extra sure she is well integrated locally (friends, activities, social life). Again this depends a lot on how westernized she is, if not that much, having Chinese friends is crucial if you're living in an entirely different culture. Just don't let her get all reclusive and spend all time on Chinese social media. This might sound like a joke but I've seen it happen. The culture barrier is real. I've seen Germans struggling to adapt to the American way of living and vice versa, and they're ridiculously close compared to China and any Western country.
Also I hope the way her parents treat her doesn't trigger too much of a protective instinct. It's noble you want to help her but be really sure you know the person and want to stay with her. Breaking up now and sending her back to her parents might make her life miserable, or maybe not and she'll find someone back in China, but marrying her, fucking up her relationship with her parents and then realizing it doesn't work after a year or two will quite likely make her life miserable. (But depending on how ugly it has gotten, you might actually like that at that point).
Again this is general precautionary advice, mostly assuming worst case conditions.
If you go to a big city and hang out at the kind of places educated, independent young people go to, you might be surprised at how open-minded the people you meet are. Particularly art-related places; people who pursue an artistic career have potentially already demonstrated a preference for following one's heart over financial concerns.
It takes more than "love" to bond and have a lasting relationship. It's good advice to look for people who are somewhat similar.
Is that against some particular to them "lazy and useless way of life" they follow, or because their way of life doesn't match some american ideal (e.g. personal ambition and protestant-work-ethic), and thus it's "lazy and useless" because its different?
Yearly income is around 10k, 20k or 30k before taxes, depending which part of Europe it is. It all goes to taxes, then rent, then food and car.
I remember when my colleagues was talking about whether or not they're letting their wife to manage their money. One person brought up "I've paid ￥XXXXXX for the 彩礼, so I'm not allowing her to limit how I spend my salary".
The idea was, as the man of the house, you provides, so you have some "power" over other family members. And that 10,000 USD you may need to pay, is the way of showing that you can provide.
Of course, all of that above is the "modern" explanation. In the ancient time, where the gender inequality is much severe, the Bride Price is mainly served as compensation to the female's family. Because after been married, the female will technically "leave" their own family and become a part of the male's family. That's why "Getting Married" is called "出嫁" at the female side, where "出" means leave (her own family).
One more thing, except for 彩礼, we also have 嫁妆 which is something that female's family will provide (technically to their own girl, though).
If you want to dig deeper, checkout one Wiki page (If you can read, the Chinese version is better). If you're living in China, better ask your local Chinese friends, I bet their information is more accurate and detailed than the Wiki page.
Hope you have a happy marriage.
It could be a pretty big insult to her parents that would affect her relationship with them (and possibly with the rest of her family as well) for the rest of her parents' lives, and depending on how she feels about it and how the rest of her family feels about it, could affect her for the rest of her life as well.
If she's fine with it, sure, great plan. If it's going to make her miserable, perhaps not so great.
But surely you can't be serous? This 10k payment idea doesn't apply just to higher incom folks like you, this applies to a decent portion of the population there most of which is making less than 30k a year. 10k for someone who makes 100k in the USA is very diffirent than to someone making 30k in China.
Surely you are well aware that you are easily in the top percentile of the world regarding income, right?
That seems more in line with my experience (and the $10,000 price is also something I've heard often). I could easily see my grandparents in law (who live in rural China) be able to live of $10k for three years, given that nothing exceptional happens.
Then why are you planning to marry "into the family" if you have such a low opinion of them?
> Many people though feel powerless to resist and ruin themselves financially by paying it.
If $10K is going to ruin you financially, you shouldn't be marrying anyone. Not that I agree with the dowry custom, but $10K isn't that much money.
Just because you are lonely or feel like the girl you have is the only one you could get isn't reason to get married. Despite what you think now, parents/siblings/family matter. Money matters. And the longer you are married, the more important family and money becomes. Don't get married out of naivety or desperation.
The Chinese language even has a rude word for someone who slavishly obeys their parents, "走狗", literally meaning "running dog".
We have laws like this in Europe. Marriages keep happening later and TFRs keep plummeting. Why would it work any different in China.
Journalists always push their prefferred policies even when there's no proof they solve the very clearly stated problem. Subsidize kindergartens! Mandatory, paid maternal leaves! All while populations that implemented them keep collapsing.
"Women are marrying later and having less kids because of career concerns, lack of maternity leave and child benefits."
The countries with the best maternity leave and child benefits have the oldest marriage and lowest birth rates.
And japan, where most women give up their jobs once married to start families and where the government pays women to have children have one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
So it's not career/jobs, it's not maternity leave, it's not child benefits. Could it be societal? Media? Education?
Where did this conclusion come from? It does not follow from your comment. If it's the thing about Japan, that's more convincing as an argument that it IS career prospects that is the culprit.
So while it's true that lowering birth rates has a societal cause, the ever increasing expectation of women to build a career is a major contributing factor.
Or Could it be so simple we can no longer afford to marry and have a Child even if both of us have a job.
I am, frankly, dreading the replies to this comment, as the thread already tilts heavily towards the sort of dehumanizing abstraction of women’s rights that often precedes more explicitly misogynist arguments cloaked in utilitarianism, so I will just say that if you consider coercing women into traumatizing and often debilitating situations to be an acceptable “cost” of a hypothetical economically optimal birth rate, I do not consider you to be capable of engaging in good faith and will not respond.
I would also suggest that concerns about “birth rate” or other abstracted metrics are often a screen for concerns — from men — about access to sex. I mean, in the context of intensifying climate change, a decreasing birth rate is not really our biggest problem as a species. It might actually be an asset.
As for what women wants, since we can both agree that they have agency, we can ask them. Or better yet, look in to the surveys done on just that subject, and conclude that women do not get as many kids as they want to, or expect to.
To quote from the WaPo article below (some people may not be able to read it):
"it turns out that having a child can have a pretty strong negative impact on a person's happiness, according to a new study published in the journal Demography. In fact, on average, the effect of a new baby on a person's life in the first year is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner."
"Researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä followed 2,016 Germans who were childless at the time the study began until at least two years after the birth of their first child. Respondents were asked to rate their happiness from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) in response to the question, "How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?""
"On average, new parenthood led to a 1.4 unit drop in happiness. That's considered very severe. To put things in perspective, previous studies have quantified the impact of other major life events on the same happiness scale in this way: divorce, the equivalent of a 0.6 "happiness unit" drop; unemployment, a one-unit drop; and the death of a partner a one-unit drop."
Also, I think the study needs to be much more longitudinal than "2 years on". Arguably the pay off for having children comes much, much later. For some, the pay off doesn't really come until they have grandchildren.
Yes, having children is often a monumental PITA. But humans are social animals, and nothing is really comparable to fill that hole than having a family of your own. The question as posed by the study is silly: yes, you might find less day-to-day happiness if your child is screaming all night long and you need to feed them and change their shitty diapers. But if the question had been 10 years on, and you asked those same mothers "do you regret having children", you would get a very different answer.
What a ridiculous false dichotomy. Earth has a huge (and increasing) number of humans on it. We are in far greater danger from unsustainable depletion of natural resources than we are "dying off" from gradually declining birthrates.
Why should that be scary?
I'm much more worried about climate change leading to war and famine than I am about women voluntarily choosing to have fewer children. As far as I can see, population decline is only a problem because our current economic system assumes endless growth.
In the meantime, our species has much more urgently pressing issues.
Fucking the environment is very unlikely to destroy humanity, and that is really the only concern of any species.
As conscientious pieces of a greater whole, however, there are definitely more pressing issues.
> The trauma, in particular, is weirdly something that people don’t talk to young women about, and that often remains hidden from view.
Everybody talks about it. It's why society discourages girls from getting pregnant.
> Of the women I’ve known personally who have given birth, all but one had PTSD from the experience.
Well your experience is rather the anomaly. Most first time mothers choose to get pregnant again? 80% of first time mothers choose to do it again. Sure the birthing process isn't a walk in the park, but to say it is "trauma or PTSD" is absurd from a statistical and evolutionary point of view.
> I would also suggest that concerns about “birth rate” or other abstracted metrics are often a screen for concerns — from men — about access to sex. I mean, in the context of intensifying climate change, a decreasing birth rate is not really our biggest problem as a species. It might actually be an asset.
It's obvious your bias leans towards low birth rate but this is absurd and makes it hard to take you seriously. To say concerns about "birth rate" is about access to sex is nonsense. You do realize that pregnancy and higher birth rates gets in the way of sex right? It's one of the reasons why men invented condoms and birth control. Greater access to sex.
Yeah, that's not why we tell girls not to get pregnant.
That hypothesis would correspond with the observation that it's the most educated, most long-term-focused people in (currently) stable societies that are delaying or avoiding children.
Objective measurements show that the world better off than it was and still improving. 
For the US middle-class? Medical expenses and college tuition are both exploding, so they are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. Yes cars are safer, cellphones so much better and so on, but it just doesn't add up to enough.
Plus all it takes is one wrong move by Putin or Kimmy and all that progress goes up in a mushroom cloud.
You say it like it would be a bad thing? It's a bit weird because I have had this impression that overpopulation, not underpopulation is some kind of a problem here on our home planet...
Or as Snow Crash put it, "the industry runs on biomass"