Because sex ratios at birth have risen sharply in China in recent decades, an increasing proportion of men
will be unable to find a bride, and will face old age without the support of a wife and children. We project
the proportions of never-married men and their geographical distribution in China in the coming decades.
Our projections assume that two tendencies in current marriage patterns will persist: that women will
continue to migrate to wealthier areas and to prefer men with better prospects. We find that, by 2030, more
than 20 per cent of men in China aged 3039 will never have married, and that the proportion will be
especially high among poor men in low-income provinces that are least able to provide social protection
programmes. The projected geographic concentration of bachelors could be socially disruptive, and the
results suggest a need to expand the coverage and central financing of social protection programmes.