The term "sheng nu" ("leftover women") has been recently coined in China to describe the increasing number of women, especially highly educated professional women in their late twenties and over who have not married. This book explores this phenomenon, reporting on extensive research among "leftover women", research which reveals that the majority of women are keen to get married, contrary to the notion that traditional marriage has lost its appeal among the new generations of economically independent women. The book explains the reasons behind these women’s failures to get married, discusses the consequences for the future make-up of China’s population at the dawn of its modification of the one child policy, and compares the situation in China with that in other countries. The book provides practical solutions for educated women’s courtship dilemmas, and long term solutions for China’s partnering issues, gender relations, and marriage formation. The book also relates the ‘leftover women’ problem to theories of family, mate selection, feminism, and individualization.

chapter 1|9 pages

Introduction to China's ‘Leftover Women’

Highly Educated, Accomplished ... and Unmarried

chapter 2|22 pages

Traditional marriage views of modern career women

‘I'm very traditional so I Must Get Married!’

chapter 3|24 pages

Discrimination in the marriage market

‘I have a lot of friends who are still single because men think that we are too tough!'

chapter 4|25 pages

Patriarchal Demands and difficult Choices

‘I'm Quite Unhappy Because He Made Me Face the Choice ... so I Chose Work’

chapter 5|26 pages

Contesting discriminatory constraints

‘I have a lot of Western colleagues who say they don't like their wives not working. They think they should utilize their talents’

chapter 6|31 pages

Combatting controlling constraints

‘I would like to find someone who can take care of things at home and complement my schedule'

chapter 7|24 pages

The Strategies of Partner Choice

Maximizers, Traditionalists, Satisficers, Innovators

chapter 8|8 pages


The Future of China's ‘leftover women’