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Interethnic marriage in Northeast China, 1866–1913


  • Bijia Chen

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Cameron Campbell

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Hao Dong

    (Peking University)


Background: There is considerable debate about whether Manchu and associated non-Han ethnic groups in China maintained a distinct identity in the late 19th century or were ‘sinicized’ and assimilated into the Han majority. Objective: We assess the boundaries between Han and non-Han groups by examining the determinants of interethnic marriage in China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a setting where Han, Manchu, and other non-Han were free to intermarry, without being subject to institutional restrictions that limited such marriages elsewhere in China. Methods: We make use of the China Multi-Generational Panel Dataset, Shuangcheng (CMGPD-SC), which consists of roughly 1.3 million observations of 107,890 Han, Manchu, Mongol, Xibo, and other individuals who lived in rural Northeast China between 1866 and 1913. We apply logistic regressions to examine the determinants of ethnic intermarriage and contingency table analysis to examine trends over time. Results: Marriage between Han and non-Han was not uncommon and increased over time. The chances of ethnic intermarriage were affected by village and family context by and individual characteristics. Conclusions: In a setting where Han, Manchu, and other ethnicities were free to intermarry, they did so in large numbers, suggesting that by itself ethnicity was not a salient boundary when it came to marriage in Northeast China in the late 19th century. Contribution: This is one of the first quantitative studies of ethnic intermarriage in China before the 20th century and one of only a small number of such studies for historical non-Western populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Bijia Chen & Cameron Campbell & Hao Dong, 2018. "Interethnic marriage in Northeast China, 1866–1913," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 38(34), pages 929-966.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:38:y:2018:i:34
    DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2018.38.34

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Delia Furtado & Stephen J. Trejo, 2013. "Interethnic marriages and their economic effects," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 15, pages 276-292, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Zhenchao Qian, 1997. "Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(2), pages 263-276, May.
    3. Barry Chiswick & Christina Houseworth, 2011. "Ethnic intermarriage among immigrants: human capital and assortative mating," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 149-180, June.
    4. Hongyun Han, 2010. "Trends in educational assortative marriage in China from 1970 to 2000," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(24), pages 733-770.
    5. Christiaan Monden & Jeroen Smits, 2005. "Ethnic intermarriage in times of social change: The case of latvia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(2), pages 323-345, May.
    6. Hao Dong & Cameron Campbell & Satomi Kurosu & Wenshan Yang & James Lee, 2015. "New Sources for Comparative Social Science: Historical Population Panel Data From East Asia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(3), pages 1061-1088, June.
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    More about this item


    assortative mating; intermarriage; ethnicity; China; historical demography;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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