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Some are unfairly branded ‘leftover women’ or ‘bare branches’ by state media and the commercial press.

These labels arose in part from the general expectation in much of China that the proper age for marriage falls between 25 and 27-years-old, though this may be moderating somewhat in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

Even so, officialdom has tacitly approved the term ‘leftover women,’ officially defined in 2007 as one of 171 new words that year by the education ministry as those who are single and over the age of 27.

Such women are stereotyped as highly educated high-earners whose standards for potential spouses are relatively high.

In contrast, ‘bare branches’ refers to older Chinese men without spouses, though the term lacks the government-decreed definition of its female counterpart.