Involuntary Bachelorhood in Rural China: A Social Network Perspective

By Lige Liu, Xiaoyi Jin, Melissa J. Brown, Marcus W. Feldman

If a man has a matchmaking network, will this increase his chance of marrying? Using survey data from X County in Anhui Province collected in 2008, we analyse the determinants of first marriage probability for 18 to 50-year-old rural Chinese men (N = 412) in terms of their social networks. We find that age at first marriage for rural Chinese men is concentrated in the interval between 22 and 27 years, and the probability of first marriage decreases sharply from age 28, and drops to almost zero above age 34. We also find that tie configuration, but not the size of the matchmaking network, has an important effect on the probability of men’s first marriage. The men who have no matchmaking network face a high risk of remaining single. Among men with a matchmaking network, different network configurations have slightly different effects: kin ties play a more important role in increasing men’s probability of marrying, especially at men’s most common marriage ages. The probability of first marriage for men with both kin and non-kin ties is the lowest, which may reflect the matchmaking strategy for some men who have more difficulties in getting married.


  • matchmaking networks
  • age at first marriage
  • involuntary bachelors
  • marriage market
  • probability of first marriage
  • marriage squeeze
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