Weddings

Dating Shanghai-Style Draws 38,000 Hopefuls as Weddings Fall.

Zhang Peijuan, 58, scans the thousands of young men and women gathered in Shanghai’s Expo Park, looking for an eligible bachelor.
“He should have a college degree, be about 1.75 meters tall, and property is a must,” says the curly-haired, retired researcher, who is shopping for a husband for her daughter and carries three photos of the 28-year-old in her handbag. “Young people these days work too hard. When I see someone I think my daughter may like, I approach him for his contact.”
Zhang was among 38,000 singles and concerned parents at Shanghai’s largest matchmaking event last weekend, as the city seeks to revive a birth rate that has collapsed to almost half the level in Japan. China’s richest city, leading financial center and largest port will see marriage registrations fall 17 percent this year, according to official estimates.
“Shanghai is at the frontier of these broad social changes and this is what is happening across urban China,” said Wang Feng, Beijing-based director for the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. “We will see it spread.”
China faces an urban shift that will shrink the pool of factory workers who sustain economic growth and expand the ranks of the elderly, pushing up health-care and pension costs. Higher education levels, a focus on careers, and greater expectations are causing city-dwellers to marry later and have fewer children.
The falling birth rate, exacerbated by China’s three- decade-old one-child policy, will cut the number of 15- to 24- year-olds, the mainstay of factories, by 27 percent to 164 million by 2025, the United Nations estimates. In that time, those over the age of 65 will surge 78 percent to 195 million.

Urban Frontier

Shanghai’s fertility rate — the number of children the average woman in the city will bear over her lifetime — was 0.79 in the year ended October 2010, about half the national level, government statistics show. That compares with the 1.42 rate for Japan and 2.08 in the U.S.
China’s labor force is already shrinking. The number of people aged between 15 and 64 declined by 0.1 percentage point last year to 74.4 percent of the population, the first contraction in 10 years, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
That’s likely to increase costs for companies in China, deterring investment and weighing on an economy that may expand at the slowest pace in 13 years in 2012. Wages for urban workers at private enterprises climbed 12 percent last year to 24,556 yuan ($3,852), the National Bureau of Statistics said on May 29.

Investment Shift

A survey released this week showed more than a fifth of European Union companies in China said they are considering shifting investments out of the country to developing economies including those in Southeast Asia and South America, due in part to rising wage bills. A separate survey of their U.S. counterparts showed two-thirds of respondents said price pressures from labor and inflation were increasing.
In Shanghai the number of couples tying the knot in the first four months of the year fell 10 percent to 41,282, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. Registrations for 2012 are forecast to fall to 120,000 pairs.
Better education has given more women the desire to choose their own partner, said Juemin Zhou, director of the Shanghai Matchmaking Trade Association, the main organizer of the event.
“In the past, women were matchmade by their parents,” said Zhou. “Then, it didn’t matter how old you were, or if your partner was blind in one eye, you still had to get married. Now, if you don’t find someone suitable, you just don’t settle.”

Older Women

Higher learning breeds higher expectations, and the group of well-educated, older, unmarried women has swelled in the last two years, Zhou said.
The number of single Shanghai women in their late 20s tripled in the last 15 years, to almost one in three, according to the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. Nearly 40 percent of college-educated women between 25 and 34 in the city were unmarried in 2005, the center said. That’s compared with 6 percent for women with only junior-school education.
“Both men and women tend to look 45 degrees upwards when searching for a partner,” said Gong Haiyan, co-chief executive officer of China’s largest online dating agency with 62 million members. “Everyone thinks he deserves someone better than he actually is.”
When Gong founded the website nine years ago, female customers listed owning a house as one of the nice-to-haves. Now it’s almost the main criteria, she said.

Home Truth

“The first thing they look for is if you have a decent job, what is your salary like, if you have an apartment,” said Hansen Huang, 34, from Anhui province, who has worked in Shanghai’s information technology industry for 12 years. “Women are looking for a partner who can provide so they can live relatively comfortably.”
With a friendly smile, checked shirt and glasses, Huang came to the fair with a friend “to give myself a chance,” he said with a chuckle. As he talked about the kind of girl he wanted — 24 to 28 years old and 1.6 to 1.7 meters tall — two sets of parents came up to speak to him.
Like Huang, many in the crowd are from other parts of China, a reflection of how Shanghai and other urban centers are making up for the decline in births. While Shanghai’s population has risen 38 percent to 23 million in the decade to 2010, the number of migrants has almost tripled to about 9 million, accounting for most of the increase, according to the last national census.

Feather Boas

About 2,000 couples were successfully matched at last year’s event, according to Zhou. This year, parents studied profiles of single men and women in dozens of matchmaking booths around the park, one decorated with pink feather boas. A typical poster read: 1.67 meter female working in a research field, born in 1983, looking for 1.77 meter male born after 1977.
To improve visibility in the throng, one father holds up a badminton racket with his daughter’s details on a piece of paper fastened to the top, and a profile of her ideal mate below.
While some women look to marry later, social expectations for a younger bride remain. A survey by Jiayuan.com in Shanghai this year categorized women over 29 as “leftovers.”
“Women can be very picky when they’re young,” said Huang. “But if you don’t sell when it commands the highest value, you may miss the golden opportunity. There are so many women for us men to choose from. We really have no reason to pick a 28-year- old when you can find a 26-year-old.”

Online Dating Websites

Online Dating Websites get the third most traffic on the internet, and people spend hours online looking for love. But is it time and money well spent? An analysis of the cost of dating estimates that it can cost nearly $5000 to find out if there is a potential match.
Online Dating is among the fastest growing sectors on the Internet. Dating websites are third in usage, behind only music and video games. (Pornography, surprisingly, has fallen to fourth). The industry is growing 10% annually and the time spent on these dating sites is growing — along with user disappointment and frustration.
“We decided to look directly at the numbers to understand the “true cost” of online dating incurred by our target audience,” says Odette Pollar of Matches That Matter, the new service that introduces small groups of over-40 singles by doing nonprofit, community-based projects together. “With dating industry revenues now in the billions annually, there’s obviously a market out there, but is it money well-spent?”
Members of online sites that offer self-written profiles, spend over 5 hours a week reading profiles and nearly 7 hours a week reading and responding to emails just to get 1.8 hours of offline interactions, according to People are Experience Goods: Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing. Our proprietary research indicates that it takes 25 first dates and 5 second dates to get one third date; and only after 3 dates will individuals know if there is chemistry and if the relationship should move forward.
So what does this mean financially? Assuming that:

  •     The process to get to a third date takes 3 months
  •     The 25 first dates are for coffee and cost $7 for a pastry and coffee for approximately $175
  •     Conservatively the 5 second dates are lunches at an average cost of $50 that adds $250 to the food costs.
  •     12 hours per week people spent to get to the first date (over the three-month period), at roughly $28 hourly average for the Bay Area, comes to over $4,000

The grand total to get to a third date, in the Bay Area, just to see if there is chemistry, is $4,425. This does not include the online dating monthly membership fees.
“To add insult to injury the satisfaction study in the Journal of Interactive Marketing asked participants to rank the online and offline search activities compared to watching a movie: The movie won! After seeing this statistic combined with these costs, it is obvious that an opportunity for an alternative service exists in an industry that is growing and thriving,” Pollar adds. “I asked myself what type of service could I offer that would be more effective, less expensive and a more realistic alternative for busy people.”
Pollar founded Matches That Matter to provide an economical, expedient and comfortable service to singles over the age of 40. She decided that the only way to honestly assess a potential companion is to see them in a natural environment doing activities they enjoy. “No time spent reading questionable profiles. All you do is show up and be yourself, ” Pollar said.
Matches That Matter’s enrollment process determines your preferences and desires in a little over an hour. Members are then presented with options for activities. 6 men and 6 women, over a three week period spend 8 to 9 hours together. Using the same assumptions as the online dating example above, the total cost for three quality interactions with 11 other compatible singles is less than $280. Even if you add the one-time membership fee and the cost of activities the total fees remain well under $500. Pollar says, “The time savings to our busy members is important but the real proof is the size of the smile as they make new friends and meet romantic partners after completing their first set of activities.”

Mary-Kate dating

Mary-Kate dating Sarkozy’s bro?
Mary-Kate Olsen is reportedly dating Olivier Sarkozy – the half brother of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The 25-year-old actress – who split from her last boyfriend artist Nate Lowman over two years ago – has been spotted with the 42-year-old French-American businessman several times over the past few months and the New York Post reports they are “head over heels” for one another.
Mary-Kate and Olivier were pictured at a New York Knicks game on April 25, gazing flirtatiously into one another’s eyes as they chinked glasses in an apparent toast.
The couple were also apparently seen looking smitten as they spent time in the Hamptons together over Memorial Day weekend.Olivier, who is managing director of global asset management firm the Carlyle Group, previous dated poet and actress Stella Schnabel – the daughter of artist Julian Schnabel.