Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

I'm a producer, Yalan,

A few weeks ago, I visited Professor Yu Jia from Peking University.

She is committed to research in the fields of population, family, marriage and sexuality.

Previously, together with several scholars from Peking University and Fudan University,

Launched the "Survey on the Quality of Private Life of Chinese",

7733 questionnaires were collected about sex life,

concluded that "middle-class sex is deprived",

"The worse the economic situation, the lower the sexual activity of young people",

"Post-00s men are becoming more and more conservative about their sexual concepts".

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan and Yu Jia came to the Temple of Heaven to go on a blind date

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Young people playing on the ice rink of Weiming Lake in Peking University

Sex and procreation are closely linked,

In January this year, the National Bureau of Statistics announced that

In 2023, the number of new births in mainland China will be 9.02 million,

down 540,000 from 2022,

Negative population growth for the second year in a row,

Behind the decline in fertility,

It is a quiet change in the concept of sex and love in Chinese.

I had a chat with Mr. Yu Jia,

also went to the blind date corner of the top Temple of Heaven in Beijing,

Experience a review of the contemporary marriage and childbirth market.

Editor: Liu Yameng

Editor-in-charge: Chen Ziwen

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex
Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex
Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan: You did the "Survey on the Quality of Private Life of Chinese", why is sex a very important incision in sociological research?

Yu Jia: Marriage involves sex, and not getting married also involves sex, which is a basic physiological need of human beings.

But sex is also a social thing. For example, everyone is familiar with "Water Margin", Ximen Qing has a very rich sex life, Wu Dalang has only one object, and he is not very willing to have a relationship with him. Sex and class is an old issue, but we now study it in a quantitative way.

Previously, Professor Pan Suiming and his team at the Chinese University of China completed four random sampling surveys of the total population of the "Chinese sexuality", every 5 years since 2000, and the data has not been updated since 2015 (Note: Professor Pan Suiming retired in 2014), so we feel that this needs to be investigated and recorded.

The survey was organized and carried out by me and Professor Zhang Chunni from Peking University and Professor Luo Weixiang from Fudan University, and it took about three years to complete the report and receive a total of 7,733 valid questionnaires. We used the data from the survey to do a lot of other research, such as how cheating affects depression, women's sexual change, and so on.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Unnamed Lake Ice Rink, a family playing around

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

The post-80s and post-90s middle class is often very busy

Arran: What are some of the findings of this survey that surprised you?

Yu Jia: There are a lot of middle-class people who are deprived of sex.

I also surfed the Internet before, like Douban's middle-aged group and life group, and some people would post and ask, "Sisters, how long have you been married and have sex with your partner......?"

At the time, I was a little surprised to see it, but then when our survey data came out, it matched the description of these posts.

The so-called middle class is actually very busy, and the pressure is not only reflected in 996, he may not have stopped his brain after work, and he is still thinking about some work things, which will inhibit sexual desire and sexual behavior.

The middle class of the post-80s and post-90s generations is also the main body of the chicken baby, and accompanying the child to do homework will also consume a lot of energy, so that you have no energy to have sex.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan and Yu Jia talk

Arran: After the release of your report, were there any conclusions that caused a strong reaction from the public?

Yu Jia: We did a study on paid sex, and we found that about 20% of men born before 1970 had paid sex, and those born after 1970 had a slightly lower percentage, about 10%.

Some people say that your data is not accurate, because as the saying goes, "ten men and nine prostitutes" or something, in fact, the proportion of our investigation is not so high, so I hope to dispel everyone's concerns.

Arran: So how do you make sure that these people are honest in the survey?

Yu Jia: Yes, because some of the actions are illegal or immoral, there must be people who cover them up. We used a lot of survey techniques, set up multiple questions to filter out valid questionnaires, and only tried to get them to tell the truth.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex
Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan and Yu Jia walked on the shore of Weiming Lake in Peking University

Yalan: In terms of age group, is the overall concept of sexuality becoming more and more open?

Yu Jia: No, it's an inverted U-shape. That is, the overall concept of 70, 80, and 90 is becoming more and more open, but the post-00s are not more open than the post-95s, but this is mainly reflected in men, and post-00s women are more open.

Post-00s men are becoming more and more conservative, probably because we don't have sex in popular culture, and we are also very cautious about kissing. However, it is also possible that when post-00s men answer this question, they want to restrict women and exclude themselves, and they want their partners to be conservative.

Arlan: Sex and love have also become a form of fast food and stress relief among young people?

Yu Jia: I think even fast food is good, but now the key is that everyone doesn't eat it.

From an academic point of view, the worse the economic situation, the less sexually active young people are. A similar situation has been found in a US study, where about one-fifth of young people's sexual activity declines are explained by an economic downturn.

Among the youngest, unemployment is far more destructive to sex than 996. Because 996 brings at least a sense of stability. When you lose your job, you will have a lot of difficulties in your life, and you will not have the energy to develop intimate relationships.

I myself come into contact with many young people, and I will feel that it is very troublesome to fall in love, first of all, it will affect my studies, and I will also have to consider whether I should be in the same city as the other party after graduating from college.

The social competition is too fierce, and the pleasure of love or sex is not as good as the happiness of being admitted to graduate school and getting a good job.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Students on the campus of Peking University

Yalan: But compared with getting married and having a baby, college students spend a lot less money and energy on falling in love, right?

Yu Jia: It costs money to fall in love. Take Peking University students as an example, the monthly living expenses are about 2,000 yuan, if you want to fall in love, you can eat in the canteen alone, but two people have to go out to eat something good, watch movies, and give each other some gifts during the New Year's holidays, which will cost an extra 1,500 yuan every month.

Especially in these very good schools, girls tend to have better family conditions than boys.

Because if you are a boy, your parents will not hesitate to educate and nurture you, even if I borrow money, I will let you go to a good school, so in a good university, the boy's family conditions are both good and bad.

However, in the cultivation of girls, parents are generally very Buddhist, and if the family conditions are good, they will pay more, and if the family conditions are not good, they will pay less. In fact, girls who can go to schools like Peking University are basically from very good families.

Therefore, on the whole, the family background of female students in key universities is generally better than that of male students. In fact, this will also cause some difficulties in falling in love, the cost of living for girls is higher, you have to date together, who will pay? Will the boy feel a little inferior?

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yu Jia with the students

Arlan: We just met one of your students in the office, she's only 23 years old, and she said that the female graduate students around her don't really want to get married, and your research also says that the sexual activity of female graduate students is a low point, why is that?

Yu Jia: They are all focused on their studies, but in fact, male graduate students are quite active in finding partners. Now it is popular to have a big heroine, who is engaged in money and career, and if you say that you want to fall in love, you will be said to be a "love brain", as if to say that you are not self-reliant enough, expressing a kind of contempt and ridicule.

I think this is a rebellion against the long-standing narrative of "romantic love" within the female group, because there have indeed been many women who have given up a good future for love and family, fallen into the pit, and their marriage is not happy in the end.

But I think there is nothing wrong with people who like to fall in love, everyone has their own choices, and they still need to be understood and respected.

Arlan: I have observed a phenomenon that although people's willingness to fall in love and get married is decreasing, the course of emotional counseling is very popular again, and the form of blind date is back.

Yu Jia: To consult, to treat love as a business in business, to reduce communication and time costs, in essence, I think it is a manifestation of efficiency first, I don't want to get along with this person slowly. This is not bad, but if it is not good, you will learn PUA or something.

Many people have returned to blind dates, what are the benefits, directly, the conditions are put up, and then screened. If you meet the requirements, I will meet you again, and if you do not meet the requirements, I will not even see you.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan and Yu Jia came to the blind date corner of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Yalan: We just walked around the blind date corner at the Temple of Heaven, how do you feel?

Yu Jia: I feel that there are more cases of short-term marriages without children. Concentrated in the post-85s, there are boys and girls, and now the post-80s and post-90s have been married for two or two or three years, and those who are not suitable may be divorced, and then re-enter the marriage and love market.

This is also consistent with the data we have seen, the divorce rate has been rising, and the number of divorces has been increasing every year, many of whom are newly married.

Just now I also asked some uncles and aunts, and they all mentioned that the boys in this place are very picky, and after a certain age, at least in the eyes of their parents, marriage and love have become a men's market, and he can find people with high education or low education, and open various conditions. At present, in the marriage market, the "value" of a woman does decrease with age.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex
Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan: On January 17, 2024, the National Bureau of Statistics released data saying that the number of births in China in 2023 will be 9.02 million.

Yu Jia: For me, it didn't exceed expectations, it seemed to be more than 9.5 million last year, a drop of 500,000, which is already a very big drop. If we calculate the fertility rate based on this figure, in fact, China has fallen to a very low level.

In 2021, according to the World Bank, China ranked seventh from the bottom in the world in terms of total fertility rate, only slightly higher than South Korea, Singapore, Malta, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands.

People are actually a foundation for the development of the country, how many people retire to be supported, and how many people work to support other people, which is related to your development strategy for the next 20 or 30 years.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Yalan: China, Japan and South Korea have low fertility rates, so why are East Asian women generally reluctant to have children if the newborn population is so important?

Yu Jia: First, there is the East Asian tradition of familialism, where parents have unlimited responsibilities for their children and want their children to be raised well, so a rational strategy is to have fewer children and concentrate limited resources on one or two children.

The second is women's choice. In East Asian societies, women are more educated than men and have good success in the workplace, but when they return to the family, they are still required to do housework and take care of children.

Having a child can bring happiness, but it is only one aspect, if the sense of accomplishment at work exceeds the sense of accomplishment that comes from making a life, she will naturally not have a child.

Third, China's unique family planning policy, the younger generation has lost the imagination of the big family, and the desire to have more children and grandchildren will be relatively rare.

Survey of Chinese Private Lives: The Middle Class Is Deprived of Sex

Arran: Do you think there is a solution to the problem of fertility and sexual decline in society as a whole?

Yu Jia: I have always said that there is a "marriage and childbirth package" in East Asian society, once you get married, you basically have to have children, and the birth in marriage is very fast, within two years of marriage, two-thirds of people will have children. The average age of marriage may be 28, and the age of having a child is 29 or 30. It is bound together, and when you fall in love, you have to think about buying a house, buying a car, and raising a baby, which is particularly stressful.

In fact, many Nordic countries have completely loosened the restrictions on marriage and childbirth. Their average age of childbearing is probably 33 years old, and the average age of marriage is 36 or 37 years old. That is, before getting married, I may have a baby with A, but it is possible to marry B. Untie marriage and childbearing, so that the concept of "childbearing" becomes lighter, and there are not so many additional, heavy things.

In addition, it may be more important to promote gender equality within the family.

The rise of women in education and economy is unstoppable, and it is very difficult to ask you to go home and have children at this time, giving up all your previous efforts, so you must protect the rights of women after giving birth.

Therefore, it is necessary to promote an equal division of labor within the family, and the husband must also contribute to housework, taking care of the elderly and children. For example, one of my students who went on an exchange trip to a Nordic country before said that she observed a lot of fathers pushing strollers and taking care of their children in the park on weekdays.

As an elder, I don't think you should put too much pressure on young people, and don't have such a strict social clock under collectivism, the more you push him, the less he wants to do it. Maybe it's okay to get married at the age of 35, but now our reproductive technology is also very developed, and it is possible to have a child at the age of 40, and everyone is a little more relaxed.

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