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Are China’s “Leftover Women” really leftover? An investigation of marriage market penalties in modern-day China


  • Loren Brandt

    () (Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Canada)

  • Hongbin Li

    () (Stanford Center on Global Poverty & Development and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University, USA)

  • Laura Turner

    () (Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Canada; Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis)

  • Jiaqi Zou

    () (Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Canada)


A recent trend in Korea and Japan sees college-graduate women marrying later and at lower rates than less-educated women. In China, “leftover women” have also became a top policy concern. This paper finds, however, that China’s higher-educated urban women attain marital outcomes more like those in the US than in other Asian Tiger countries: marrying later, but ultimately at comparable rates to less-educated women. For 1990-2009, we quantify marriage quality using the classic Choo-Siow (2006) estimator and find large returns to marrying later but minimal direct higher-education effects. Using the Choo (2015) dynamic estimator, we project future marriage rates to continue to rise for higher-educated women relative to their lower-educated peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Loren Brandt & Hongbin Li & Laura Turner & Jiaqi Zou, 2018. "Are China’s “Leftover Women” really leftover? An investigation of marriage market penalties in modern-day China," Working Paper series 18-33, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:rim:rimwps:18-33

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    Cited by:

    1. Ong, David & Yang, Yu & Zhang, Junsen, 2020. "Hard to get: The scarcity of women and the competition for high-income men in urban China," MPRA Paper 98166, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2020.

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