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That was up from 1,390 in 1991, when they accounted for only 6.1 per cent of the overall unions.Annie Chan Hau-nung, an associate professor at Lingnan University’s Department of Sociology and Social Policy, said this was because there was more economic activity between Hong Kong and the mainland than before.The desperation of ‘leftover’ women Being single hit Mary particularly hard when she turned 30 last year, a “watershed” that she had been dreading for some time. “All my girl friends are naturally having fun with their loved ones.“It is quite hard on festivals such as Christmas or St Valentine’s, when this world seems to assume you should not be alone. “It has come to the stage where my girl friends are married, some of them even have kids. I’m starting to worry that by the time I’ve found the right guy, I might be too old to give birth and raise children.” Mary’s parents were anxious too.More couples had managed to put aside their political differences as well.“In the past, Hong Kong women might have been less inclined to marry mainland Chinese men, but in recent years the cultural and socio-economic gap has been narrowed,” Chan added.

In 2016, some 7,626 Hong Kong women married mainland Chinese men, making up a third (33.3 per cent) of cross-border marriages.

Social impact The city has seen a decline in fertility rates over the past 33 years, according to a census report released in 2015.

In 2014, only 62,305 babies were born in Hong Kong, compared to 86,751 births in 1981.

In Hong Kong, the gender ratio has become increasingly skewed, with just 852 males to every 1,000 females, compared with 911 to 1,000 a decade ago.

“I’ve never known what it is really like to be in a serious relationship, to live in the same house with a guy, or to get married,” Mary said.

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