More than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age could find themselves without spouses in 2020, state media reported on Monday, citing a study that blamed sex-specific abortions as a major factor.
The study, by the government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, named the gender imbalance among newborns as the most serious demographic problem for the country's population of 1.3 billion, Global Times said.
"Sex-specific abortions remained extremely commonplace, especially in rural areas," where the cultural preference for boys over girls is strongest, the study said, while noting the reasons for the gender imbalance were "complex."
Researcher Wang Guangzhou said the skewed birth ratio could lead to difficulties for men with lower incomes in finding spouses, as well as a widening age gap between partners, according to Global Times.
Another researcher quoted by the newspaper, Wang Yuesheng, said men in poorer parts of China would be forced to accept marriages late in life or remain single for life, which could "cause a break in family lines."