Social Indicators Research

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 793–807 | Cite as

China’s Marriage Squeeze: A Decomposition into Age and Sex Structure

  • Quanbao Jiang
  • Xiaomin Li
  • Shuzhuo Li
  • Marcus W. Feldman


Most recent studies of marriage patterns in China have emphasized the male-biased sex ratio but have largely neglected age structure as a factor in China’s male marriage squeeze. In this paper we develop an index we call “spousal sex ratio” to measure the marriage squeeze, and a method of decomposing the proportion of male surplus into age and sex structure effects within a small spousal age difference interval. We project that China’s marriage market will be confronted with a relatively severe male squeeze. For the decomposition of the cohort aged 30, from 2010 to 2020 age structure will be dominant, while from 2020 through 2034 the contribution of age structure will gradually decrease and that of sex structure will increase. From then on, sex structure will be dominant. The index and decomposition, concentrated on a specific female birth cohort, can distinguish spousal competition for single cohorts which may be covered by a summary index for the whole marriage market; these can also be used for consecutive cohorts to reflect the situation of the whole marriage market.


Marriage squeeze Spousal sex ratio Spousal age difference Age structure Sex structure Decomposition Projection 



This work was jointly supported by the key project of National Social Science Foundation of China (14AZD096, 13BRK025), and the HSSTP project of Shaanxi province (China). We would like to thank to the editor and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Quanbao Jiang
    • 1
  • Xiaomin Li
    • 1
  • Shuzhuo Li
    • 1
  • Marcus W. Feldman
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Population and Development Studies, School of Public Policy and AdministrationXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Morrison Institute for Population and Resource StudiesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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