15 in a Billion

With 1.4 billion citizens, mainland China is the world's most populous country—and home to one in five women on our planet, from rice farmers to multimillionaires. Photographer Kate Peters and writer Abigail Haworth capture a portrait of a nation in dramatic flux through 15 women.

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November 5, 2012 11:00 AM
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Bride

Shuiyuan Chen, 22

With 10 million weddings a year, the Chinese marriage industry is now worth an estimated $57 billion. Chen's lavish nuptials to her college sweetheart were typical for an urban educated couple: They celebrated with a banquet for 600 guests costing almost $50,000. Before agreeing to tie the knot, most modern brides insist their fiancés have a high salary and own an apartment. Chen, an accountant, lucked out--her new husband's family owns an entire 14-floor apartment building in Shenzhen. The downside? Her mother-in-law lives above them.