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The Transition to First Marriage in China, 1966–2008: An Examination of Gender Differences in Education and Hukou Status


  • Martin Piotrowski

    () (University of Oklahoma)

  • Yuying Tong

    (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

  • Yueyun Zhang

    (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

  • Lu Chao

    (University of Oklahoma)


Abstract Using retrospective life history data from the 2008 Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS), this study examines the entrance into first marriage in China, a country that has been experiencing profound socioeconomic changes for the past several decades. We examine educational differences across rural and urban regions and across gender as determinants of marriage. Results reveal that for rural women, increasing education (especially from the least educated to middle levels of education) decreases marriage chances. For urban women, increasing education does not affect their marriage chances, net of other factors. For the former, results are consistent with the broad East Asian cultural practice of women “marrying up.” For the latter, we argue that modernizing forces (e.g., improvements in education) have reduced the incidence of this practice. We also find effects attributable to unique features of the Chinese institutional context, such as the rural/urban divide and effects of the household registration (Hukou) system.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Piotrowski & Yuying Tong & Yueyun Zhang & Lu Chao, 2016. "The Transition to First Marriage in China, 1966–2008: An Examination of Gender Differences in Education and Hukou Status," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(1), pages 129-154, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eurpop:v:32:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10680-015-9364-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10680-015-9364-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Anukriti, S & Dasgupta, Shatanjaya, 2017. "Marriage Markets in Developing Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 10556, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Yan Wei & Li Zhang, 2016. "Understanding Hypergamous Marriages of Chinese Rural Women," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(6), pages 877-898, December.

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    Marriage; China; Hukou system; Marrying up;


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