‘Do “Leftover” Women Deserve Our Sympathy?’ “Pretty girls don’t need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family, but girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult. These kinds of girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don’t realize that as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their M.A. or Ph.D., they are already old, like yellowed pearls” - 2011 Xinhua column, posted on Women’s Federation Web site
31-35 years old 斗战胜佛 “Buddha of Victorious Battles” “High-level ‘leftover’ women battle to survive in the cruel workplace, but are still single”
“Finding a partner should be as easy as blowing away a speck of dust”
35 and Older 齐天大圣 “Great Sage Equal of Heaven” She “has a luxury apartment, private car and a company, so why did she become a ‘leftover’ woman?”
“It is only when they have lost their youth and are kicked out by the man, that they decide to look for a life partner”
Methods 1) ethnographic observation of Beijing real estate agencies and home sales events 2) Sina Weibo survey of 283 people 20s to mid-30s across China 3) in-depth interviews with 60 people: 36 women, 24 men in Beijing, Shanghai (3 in Xi’an). Most have college degree or higher, “middle class”, 20s to mid-30s. All urban residents, roughly half only-children, half with siblings. 4) content analysis of media reports. My study is qualitative, but findings accord with Women’s Federation 2010 nationwide survey on status of women & Horizon 2012 quantitative survey of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen: ~ 80% property deeds include man’s name; ~30% include woman’s name. But women contribute to over 70% of marital homes purchased.
Backlash against urban, educated women Record numbers of university-educated Chinese women China State Council issued 2007 Population Decision to address “unprecedented population pressures” State Council: “low quality of the general population…makes it hard to meet the requirements of fierce competition for national strength” Sex-ratio imbalance — “threat to social stability” Key goal: “upgrade population quality” Warnings of birth defects for mothers over 30