Leftover woman

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Leftover Woman.webp

Leftover woman, (Shèngnǚ 剩女) became an official Chinese word in 2007 and refers to women who are older in age (usually the post-70s generation), have higher incomes, and are still unmarried. They tend to have higher than average expectations of their potential partners.[1]

Four types of leftover women[edit]

Doctor Du Xianzhi of the University of Hong Kong published a study of leftover women in China. After interviewing single women in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Anhui, Liaoning, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other places, Dr. Du classified the remaining women into four typical types:[2]

  1. Aggressive: These leftover women tend to be very entrepreneurial. They tend to out-earn their male Chinese counterparts, and many even seek relationships with foreigners.
  2. Traditional: These leftover women have a traditionalist mindset, and want a man with financial strength, which they cannot find.[3]
  3. Compromise: This type of leftover woman doesn't care much about the income of men in dating. She hopes to find a non-traditional man who is ok with gender equality, in return for not caring about his income.
  4. Independent: These types of leftover women value independence and consider marriage to be an unnecessary personal restraint. They may seek relationships outside of marriage. The main barrier they face is that non-marital relationships aren't popular in China, partially because of older generations.

Word origin[edit]

Cosmo Magazine.webp

The term “leftover women” originated from the cover of the first Chinese issue of the “Fashion Cosmo” magazine in 2006.


After 2007, the word was included in the “Report on the Status of Chinese Language Life” issued by the Ministry of Education, and was defined as: “high education, high income, over 27 years old women who still do not get an ideal home in marriage”.


Unmarried women aged 25 to 28 were called "junior leftover women" or "leftover fighters"; unmarried women aged 28 to 32 were called "intermediate leftover women" or "must "Leftovers"; unmarried women aged 32 to 35 are classified as "senior leftover women"; women over 35 years old who have not been married are honored as "Qitian leftovers", and older single women are labeled various Age labels, and the image of "leftover women" does not stop there. In this regard, the news media has played a role in fueling the flames, and media exposure has continued to build the public's perception of the image of "leftover women".


The Japanese call them "women thrown away by men" or "3S women": Single (single), Seventies (most of them born in the 1970s), Stuck (stuck). This was once popular on the Internet.

There are more "leftover women", in Japan than in any part of the world. As early as 2013, the average age at which Japanese women gave birth to their first child had reached 31.4 years, and the average age at first marriage had reached 30.3 years. It can be seen that the phenomenon of late birth and late marriage of Japanese women is gradually intensifying. In 2015, the lifetime unmarried rate of men in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan was as high as 26.2%, and the lifetime rate of unmarried women in Tokyo was 19.2%. The lifetime unmarried rates of men and women in the two regions ranked first in Japan respectively.

In addition, according to the 2014 Marriage Awareness Survey conducted by the Cabinet Office of Japan for men and women aged 20 to 39, 60.8% of unmarried men and women said they "want to find a lover", and 37.6% answered "want to find a lover". Among them, women The proportion is 39.1%, and the proportion of men is 36.2%. Regarding the reason why you don't want to find a lover (choose multiple), the highest proportion is "being in love is too troublesome", reaching 46.2%, followed by "I want to devote all my energy to my hobbies" (45.1%). The survey also found that nearly 40% of Japanese women said they did not want children.


The American term for leftover woman is, "cat lady". Due to the high competition for employment, many American women are pursuing higher degrees. Some people can only wait for them to settle down in their studies and work before considering marriage. This has led to late marriages and the so-called "cat ladies", in the USA.

South Korea[edit]

Korean society is a country with a profound influence of patriarchal culture. Compared to China, women in Korea are in a relatively weak position in terms of employment rate, job promotion, salary package, family status, voice, economic income and many other aspects in the workplace.

Korean housewives and full-time wives have a high percentage worldwide. Their main tasks are husband and wife, take care of children, wash and cook, clean, take care of children, and even plant flowers, raise dogs, make wine, make sauce, etc. Various housework. However, with the increasing openness of Korean society, the influence of feminism and the struggle for equal rights for women, the emergence of a large number of leftover women in recent years has caused many changes in Korean traditional gender values, and women's status and awareness of independence have been compared to the previous ones. Great improvement, more and more professional women. Most unmarried Korean women believe that the first four factors affecting happiness are health, the second is economic conditions, the third is career development, and the last is marriage.

Highly educated[edit]

According to the 2015 Population and Economics survey: The proportion of "leftover women" has increased significantly among the groups with higher education.


The term is controversial. For example, in 2017, China Women's Daily published a sexist banned term, and the term “leftover women” was included in the list.


  1. "No Car No House" Song, Chinese Leftover Women Version, ChinaSmack on March 10, 2011
  2. Zhang Yiran, Zhang Biao, Hu Fengying. "Women Difficult to Marry" or "Men Difficult to Marry"——The Difference Between Men and Women in Marriage Matching and the Cost of "Left Men and Women"[J]. Population and Economy.2015(5):13 -twenty four
  3. https://baike.baidu.com/reference/7352570/7e7egYIvhljG3CbCC0ALdIWMFK4Oms0n9ic2dru9ms9YvNb-9zg-5J1sctn709II11BC7bRzf2bi7Ko_m3XFx5RoQsoAfnHjfxw-YENLQ7r6VjfT

See also[edit]