Changing patterns and determinants of first marriage over the history of the People’s Republic of China

Young Author’s Prize 2019
By Kim Qinzi Xu

Throughout the history of the People’s Republic of China, age at marriage has increased as a result of state policy intervention and socioeconomic changes, although the popularity of marriage remains undiminished. At the same time, concern is growing over forced lifelong singlehood among segments of the population, which is due to a sex ratio imbalance in the marriage market and gender differentiation in mate preferences. Few empirical studies have examined the factors that likely influence the timing and propensity of marriage. To address that research gap, this study adopts cure survival analysis to jointly model the determinants of first-marriage likelihood and timing. Data from multiple rounds of the Chinese General Social Survey are used to assess changes in marriage over successive birth cohorts. The results suggest that, among most male and female cohorts, a lower level of education is linked with younger ages at marriage, although with lower chances of ever marrying. For younger male cohorts, residence in less developed provinces is found to be associated with earlier marriage entry but reduced marriage likelihood. Among younger female cohorts, living in metropolitan cities stands out as the most important factor in reducing marriage propensity.

  • marriage
  • China
  • cohort
  • cure survival models
  • split-population survival models
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