China’s reform and opening up has not only brought about great changes to the economy and society, but also transformed Chinese marriages and family structure in an unprecedented way. Population expert Tang Can believes that in the last thirty years Chinese families have shown diversified patterns. The scale of family is becoming smaller and the marriage functions of families are being gradually weakened.
Smaller family is an important characteristic of the changes taking place in Chinese urban and rural family structure, said Tang in an article published on the latest Gazette of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences titled The Changes of Urban and Rural Family Structure and Function. Nuclear family is the dominant form of family structure and small families are becoming increasingly diversified. In 2002 the average number of family members was 3.39, down by 1.42 from that in 1973. The average number of persons in each household is approaching that of developed countries such as the USA and Canada, which is about 3.