Advertisement

Demography

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 1869–1892 | Cite as

Changes in the Determinants of Marriage Entry in Post-Reform Urban China

  • Jia Yu
  • Yu Xie
Article

Abstract

Using population intercensus and national survey data, we examine marriage timing in urban China spanning the past six decades. Descriptive analysis from the intercensus shows that marriage patterns have changed in China. Marriage age is delayed for both men and women, and prevalence of nonmarriage became as high as one-quarter for men in recent birth cohorts with very low levels of education. Capitalizing on individual-level survey data, we further explore the effects of demographic and socioeconomic determinants of entry into marriage in urban China over time. Our study yields three significant findings. First, the influence of economic prospects on marriage entry has significantly increased during the economic reform era for men. Second, the positive effect of working in the state-owned sector has substantially weakened. Third, educational attainment now has a negative effect on marriage timing for women. Taken together, these results suggest that the traditional hypergamy norm has persisted in China as an additional factor in the influences of economic resources on marriage formation.

Keywords

Marriage entry China Socioeconomic determinants Economic reform 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Jia Yu’s research was supported by a research grant from the National Social Science Fund of China (No. 15CRK022). Yu Xie’s research was partially supported by a research grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71461137001) and the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center, which receives core support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant R24HD041028). We thank Zheng Mu, Xiwei Wu, Yongai Jin, and Ting Chen for suggestions and help on early drafts of this article, as well as the helpful feedback of anonymous reviewers.

References

  1. Allison, P. D. (1995). Survival analysis using the SAS system: A practical guide. Cary, NC: SAS Institute, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, G. S. (1973). A theory of marriage: Part I. Journal of Political Economy, 81(8), 13–46.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1974). A theory of marriage: Part II. Journal of Political Economy, 82(2), S11–S26.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, G. S. (1991). A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bian, Y. (2002). Chinese social stratification and social mobility. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 91–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blossfeld, H.-P., & Huinink, J. (1991). Human capital investments or norms of role transition? How women’s schooling and career affect the process of family formation. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 143–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bulcroft, R. A., & Bulcroft, K. A. (1993). Race differences in attitudinal and motivational factors in the decision to marry. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 338–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cai, Y., & Wang, F. (2014). From collective synchronization to individual liberalization: (Re)emergence of late marriage in Shanghai. In D. Davis & S. Freedman (Eds.), Sexuality and marriage in cosmopolitan China (pp. 97–117). Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Casterline, J. B. (1994). Fertility transition in Asia. In T. Locoh & V. H. Liège (Eds.), The onset of fertility transition in sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 69–86). Liège, Belgium: Derouaux Ordina.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, P.-C., & Kols, A. (1982). Population and birth planning in the People’s Republic of China (Population Reports, Series J, No. 25). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chen, Y.-H., & Chen, H. (2014). Continuity and changes in the timing and formation of first marriage among postwar birth cohorts in Taiwan. Journal of Family Issues, 35, 1584–1604.Google Scholar
  12. Cherlin, A. J. (1980). Postponing marriage: The influence of young women’s work expectations. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 355–365.Google Scholar
  13. Coale, A., & Treadway, R. (1986). A summary of the changing distribution of overall fertility, marital fertility, and the proportion married in the provinces of Europe. In A. Coale & S. Watkins (Eds.), The decline of fertility in Europe (pp. 31–181). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cooney, T. M., & Hogan, D. P. (1991). Marriage in an institutionalized life course: First marriage among American men in the twentieth century. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 178–190.Google Scholar
  15. Coughlin, T., & Drewianka, S. (2011). Can rising inequality explain aggregate trends in marriage? Evidence from U.S. states, 1977–2005. B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, 11, Article 3. Retrieved from https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/coughli2/www/Inequality%20and%20Marriage2.pdf
  16. Cready, C. M., Fossett, M. A., & Kiecolt, K. J. (1997). Mate availability and African American family structure in the U.S. nonmetropolitan South, 1960–1990. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 59, 192–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis, D. (2005). Urban consumer culture. China Quarterly, 183, 677–694.Google Scholar
  18. Davis, D. S. (1992). Skidding: Downward mobility among children of the Maoist middle class. Modern China, 18, 410–437.Google Scholar
  19. Davis, D. S. (2000). Reconfiguring Shanghai households. In B. Entwisle & G. Henderson (Eds.), Redrawing boundaries (pp. 245–260). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  20. Fincher, L. H. (2012, October 11). China’s “leftover” women. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/global/chinas-leftover-women.html?_r=0
  21. Fukuda, S. (2013). The changing role of women’s earnings in marriage formation in Japan. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 646, 107–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldscheider, F. K., & Waite, L. J. (1986). Sex differences in the entry into marriage. American Journal of Sociology, 92, 91–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goldstein, J. R., & Kenney, C. T. (2001). Marriage delayed or marriage forgone? New cohort forecasts of first marriage for U.S. women. American Sociological Review, 66, 506–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gould, E. D., & Paserman, M. D. (2003). Waiting for Mr Right: Rising inequality and declining marriage rates. Journal of Urban Economics, 53, 257–281.Google Scholar
  25. Guo, Z. (1999). Early marriage in Beijing [in Chinese]. Chinese Journal of Population Science, 3, 1–10.Google Scholar
  26. Kalmijn, M. (2013). The educational gradient in marriage: A comparison of 25 European countries. Demography, 50, 1499–1520.Google Scholar
  27. Kuo, Y.-C. (2003). Wage inequality and propensity to marry after 1980 in Taiwan. Journal of Urban Economics, 53, 257–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, J., & Wang, F. (1999). One quarter of humanity: Malthusian mythology and Chinese realities, 1700–2000. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Lesthaeghe, R., & Moors, G. (2000). Recent trends in fertility and household formation in the industrialized world. Review of Population and Social Policy, 9, 121–170.Google Scholar
  30. Lesthaeghe, R., & Surkyn, J. (1988). Cultural dynamics and economic theories of fertility change. Population and Development Review, 14, 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lichter, D. T., LeClere, F. B., & McLaughlin, D. K. (1991). Local marriage markets and the marital behavior of black and white women. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 843–867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lichter, D. T., McLaughlin, D. K., & Ribar, D. C. (2002). Economic restructuring and the retreat from marriage. Social Science Research, 31, 230–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Liu, J., & Zhao, G. (2009). Study on the age at first marriage pattern of urban male and female in China: Based on CGSS2005 database [in Chinese]. Population and Development, 15(4), 13–21.Google Scholar
  34. Lloyd, K. M., & South, S. J. (1996). Contextual influences on young men’s transition to first marriage. Social Forces, 74, 1097–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Logan, J. A., Hoff, P. D., & Newton, M. A. (2008). Two-sided estimation of mate preferences for similarities in age, education, and religion. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 103, 559–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. MacDonald, M. M., & Rindfuss, R. R. (1981). Earnings, relative income, and family formation. Demography, 18, 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Magistad, M. K. (2013, February 21). China’s “leftover women”, unmarried at 27. BBC News Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21320560
  38. Malhotra, A. (1997). Gender and the timing of marriage: Rural-urban differences in Java. Journal of Marriage and Family, 59, 434–450.Google Scholar
  39. Mare, R. D., & Winship, C. (1991). Socioeconomic change and the decline of marriage for blacks and whites. In C. Jencks & P. E. Peterson (Eds.), The urban underclass (pp. 175–202). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  40. McLanahan, S., & Casper, L. (1995). Growing diversity and inequality in the American family. In R. Farley (Ed.), State of the Union: America in the 1990s, Vol. 2: Social trends (pp. 1–45). New York, NY: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2013). Educational statistics yearbook of China. Beijing, China: People’s Education Press.Google Scholar
  42. Mu, Z., & Xie, Y. (2014). Marital age homogamy in China: A reversal of trend in the reform era? Social Science Research, 44, 141–157.Google Scholar
  43. Nobles, J., & Buttenheim, A. (2008). Marriage and socioeconomic change in contemporary Indonesia. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 904–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Oppenheimer, V. K. (1988). A theory of marriage timing. American Journal of Sociology, 94, 563–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oppenheimer, V. K. (1994). Women’s rising employment and the future of the family in industrial societies. Population and Development Review, 20, 293–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Oppenheimer, V. K. (1997). Women’s employment and the gain to marriage: The specialization and trading model. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 431–453.Google Scholar
  47. Oppenheimer, V. K., Kalmijn, M., & Lim, N. (1997). Men’s career development and marriage timing during a period of rising inequality. Demography, 34, 311–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oppenheimer, V. K., & Lew, V. (1995). Marriage formation in the eighties: How important was women’s economic independence? In K. O. Mason & A. Jensen (Eds.), Gender and family change in industrialized countries (pp. 105–138). Oxford, UK: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  49. Parish, W. L. (1981). Egalitarianism in Chinese society. Problems of Communism, 29, 37–53.Google Scholar
  50. Parish, W. L. (1984). Destratification in China. In J. Watson (Ed.), Class and social stratification in post-revolution China (pp. 84–120). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Park, H., & Lee, J. K. (2014). Growing educational differentials in the retreat from marriage among Korean men (PSC Working Paper Series, WPS 14-5). Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/psc_working_papers/57
  52. Parsons, T. (1949). The social structure of the family. In R. Anshen (Ed.), The family: Its function and destiny (pp. 173–201). New York, NY: Harper.Google Scholar
  53. Preston, S. H., & Richards, A. T. (1975). The influence of women’s work opportunities on marriage rates. Demography, 12, 209–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Qian, Z., & Preston, S. H. (1993). Changes in American marriage, 1972 to 1987: Availability and forces of attraction by age and education. American Sociological Review, 58, 482–495.Google Scholar
  55. Raymo, J. M. (2003). Educational attainment and the transition to first marriage among Japanese women. Demography, 40, 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Raymo, J. M., & Iwasawa, M. (2005). Marriage market mismatches in Japan: An alternative view of the relationship between women’s education and marriage. American Sociological Review, 70, 801–822.Google Scholar
  57. Raymo, J. M., Park, H., Xie, Y., & Yeung, W.-J. J. (2015). Marriage and family in East Asia: Continuity and change. Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 471–492.Google Scholar
  58. Rindfuss, R. R., Tamaki, E., Piotrowski, M., Choe, M., Tsuya, N., & Bumpass, L. (2013 August). Social change, social networks, and family and fertility change in Japan. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), Busan, South Korea.Google Scholar
  59. Rosero-Bixby, L. (1996). Nuptiality trends and fertility transition in Latin America. In J. M. Gjuzman, S. Singh, G. Rodriguez, & E. A. Pantelides (Eds.), The fertility transition in Latin America (pp. 135–150). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  60. Ryder, N. B. (1965). The cohort as a concept in the study of social change. American Sociological Review, 30, 843–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sassler, S. L., & Schoen, R. (1999). The effect of attitudes and economic activity on marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 147–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schwartz, C. R. (2010). Pathways to educational homogamy in marital and cohabiting unions. Demography, 47, 735–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schwartz, C. R., & Mare, R. D. (2005). Trends in educational assortative marriage: From 1940 to 2003. Demography, 42, 621–646.Google Scholar
  64. Song, X., & Xie, Y. (2014). Market transition revisited: Changing regimes of housing inequality in China, 1988–2002. Sociological Science, 1, 277–291.Google Scholar
  65. South, S. J. (2001). The variable effects of family background on the timing of first marriage: United States, 1969–1993. Social Science Research, 30, 606–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sweeney, M. M. (2002). Two decades of family change: The shifting economic foundations of marriage. American Sociological Review, 67, 132–147.Google Scholar
  67. Tang, W., & Parish, W. L. (2000). Chinese urban life under reform: The changing social contract. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Teachman, J. D., Polonko, K. A., & Leigh, G. K. (1987). Marital timing: Race and sex comparisons. Social Forces, 66, 239–268.Google Scholar
  69. Thornton, A., Axinn, W., & Teachman, J. D. (1995). The influence of school enrollment and accumulation on cohabitation and marriage in early adulthood. American Sociological Review, 60, 762–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Thornton, A., Axinn, W., & Xie, Y. (2007). Marriage and cohabitation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Thornton, A., & Lin, H.-S. (1994). Social change and the family in Taiwan. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  72. Waite, L. J., & Spitze, G. D. (1981). Young women’s transition to marriage. Demography, 18, 681–694.Google Scholar
  73. Walder, A. G. (1986). Communist neo-traditionalism: Work and authority in Chinese industry. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  74. Wang, F., & Mason, A. (2008). The demographic factor in China’s transitions. In L. Brandt & T. G. Rawski (Eds.), China’s great economic transformations (pp. 136–166). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Wang, F., & Tuma, N. (1993, August–September). Changes in Chinese marriage patterns during the twentieth century. Paper presented at the IUSSP International Population Conference, Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  76. Wang, F., & Yang, Q. (1996). Age at marriage and the first birth interval: The emerging change in sexual behavior among young couples in China. Population and Development Review, 22, 299–320.Google Scholar
  77. Wei, S.-J., & Zhang, X. (2011). The competitive saving motive: Evidence from rising sex ratios and savings rates in China. Journal of Political Economy, 119, 511–564.Google Scholar
  78. White, L. K. (1981). A note on racial differences in the effects of female economic opportunity on marriage rates. Demography, 18, 349–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Whyte, M. K. (1990). Changes in mate choice in Chengdu. In D. Davis & E. Vogel (Eds.), China on the eve of Tiananmen (pp. 181–213). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  81. Wu, J., Gyourko, J., & Deng, Y. (2012). Evaluating conditions in major Chinese housing markets. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 3, 531–543.Google Scholar
  82. Wu, X. (2002). Work units and income inequality: The effect of market transition in urban China. Social Forces, 80, 1069–1099.Google Scholar
  83. Wu, X., & Treiman, D. J. (2007). Inequality and equality under Chinese socialism: The hukou system and intergenerational occupational mobility. American Journal of Sociology, 113, 415–445.Google Scholar
  84. Xie, Y. (2011). Evidence-based research on China: A historical imperative. Chinese Sociological Review, 44(1), 14–25.Google Scholar
  85. Xie, Y. (2013). Gender and family in contemporary China (Research Report 13-808). Ann Arbor: Population Studies Center, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  86. Xie, Y., Lai, Q., & Wu, X. (2009). Danwei and social inequality in contemporary urban China. Sociology of Work, 19, 283–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Xie, Y., Raymo, J., Goyette, K., & Thornton, A. (2003). Economic potential and entry into marriage and cohabitation. Demography, 40, 351–367.Google Scholar
  88. Xu, X., & Whyte, M. K. (1990). Love matches and arranged marriages: A Chinese replication. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 709–722.Google Scholar
  89. Yabiku, S. T. (2004). Marriage timing in Nepal: Organizational effects and individual mechanisms. Social Forces, 83, 559–586.Google Scholar
  90. Yu, J., & Xie, Y. (2011). The varying display of “gender display”: A comparative study of mainland China and Taiwan. Chinese Sociological Review, 44(2), 5–30.Google Scholar
  91. Yu, J., & Xie, Y. (2013). Social change and trends in determinants of entry to first marriage [in Chinese]. Sociological Research, 44, 1–25.Google Scholar
  92. Yu, X., Wang, Z., & Yang, X. (1994). Assessment and impact of early marriage and early birth during 1980s in China [in Chinese]. Population Research, 18(1), 26–30.Google Scholar
  93. Zang, X. (1993). Household structure and marriage in urban China: 1900–1982. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 24(1), 35–44.Google Scholar
  94. Zeng, Z., & Xie, Y. (2008). A preference-opportunity-choice framework with applications to intergroup friendship. American Journal of Sociology, 114, 615–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyChinese Academy of Social SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of SociologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Social ResearchPeking UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations