The ratio of "May December" love -- between older women and younger men -- has surged to a 10-year high in Taiwan, with nearly two such couples in every 10 registered marriages since the end of last year, according to government statistics.
According to tallies released by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), the percentage of such marriages across the country stood at 18.2 percent at the end of 2015, a noticeable increase from 14.6 percent recorded in 1997.
The 2015 figure, however, still lags behind Japan's 24.3 percent and Hong Kong's 20.1 percent, but is ahead of Singapore's 17.9 percent.
The phenomenon can be attributed to several factors, MOI officials said.
The fading of the conventional wisdom that "a man must marry a woman younger than himself" and the increased awareness among women of their own rights can be factored in, as there are more and more "cougar couples" -- an older woman with a younger man -- in which men no longer play a dominant role, they said.
In recent years, the growing tendency to get married later in life, or even not to get married at all, resulting from the sluggish economic climate, have also indirectly led to the rise in May December marriages, according to the ministry.
Nowadays, women who get married later can naturally choose their spouses from a wider scope of men, resulting in more May December couples.
If analyzed from the perspective of life expectancy, "a man marrying an older woman" seems to provide a guarantee for "the couple to spend the rest of their lives longer together," they said.
At the same time, it is widely believed that the growing popularity of May December love is due mainly to the increased awareness among women of their own rights and to their improved economic independence, a social science expert said.
A woman who enjoys economic independence can also pursue equality in a relationship, an objective that is easier for her to obtain with younger men who can tend to be more unconventional, and more tolerant about their spouses' age or appearance, the expert explained.
Source: Focus Taiwan