Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 609–636 | Cite as

Sibship Characteristics and Transition to First Marriage in Taiwan: Explaining Gender Asymmetries

  • Wei-hsin YuEmail author
  • Kuo-hsien Su
  • Chi-Tsun Chiu


Sociologists have long been interested in the effects of sibship structures. Although previous research generally focuses on the impacts of sibship characteristics on educational outcomes, these characteristics may also affect individuals’ decisions about marriage by shaping their resource availability, parental expectations, or social skills and contacts. Using a nationally representative sample from Taiwan, we examine how sibship size, birth-order rank, and sibship sex composition are associated with men’s and women’s transitions to first marriage. The analysis shows that men who have no male siblings tend to accelerate their rates of entering marriage. By contrast, women with more siblings or in earlier birth positions are likely to do the same. We argue that the findings for women reflect the influences of sibship structures on household resource allocation, whereas those for men have to do with the cultural emphasis on sons’ responsibility for carrying on the family lineage. Moreover, Chinese cultural norms that prescribe different roles for married sons and daughters account for the asymmetrical mechanisms revealed for men and women in Taiwan. Results from this study thus underscore the need to consider family norms and cultural contexts in explaining the transition to marriage.


Marriage timing Sibship characteristics Gender Chinese family norms 



The first author receives support from the Taiwanese Study Program Development Grant awarded to the University of Texas at Austin by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. The research is also funded by a grant (NSC97-2628-H-002-176) to the second author from the National Science Council in Taiwan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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