With a surplus of bachelors in China thanks to the one-child policy and cultural preference for boys, the country is starting to see more runaway brides — who run away with the bride price their grooms-to-be saved up for the bride’s family.
“Cai li,” the set amount the groom’s family pays the bride’s family, used to be a small sum in the '80s. But since the country has become more prosperous and prospective brides more scarce, the sums have risen to sometimes several years’ worth of a farming family’s income.
Officials speculate that although the runaway bride phenomenon isn’t exactly yet an epidemic, they’re concerned that when the runaways happen in clusters, organized crime rings may be behind the scams.
The British Journal of Medicine estimates that in a recent census, there was a surplus of 32 million males under the age of 20.