Trends of Marital Age Homogamy in China, 1960-2005: A Marriage Cohort Perspective

Zheng Mu, University of Michigan
Yu Xie, University of Michigan

This paper, using a random sample of the nationally representative China 20051% Population Inter-census Survey, based on log-multiplicative layer effect models, investigates the trends of age homogamy in contemporary China with sharp focus on the reform-era. As expected, empirical results show an inverted U-shape trend of age homogamy in reform-era China, which may be due to the reversal to ‚Äúnecessity considerations‚ÄĚ of women during mate-selections process in coping with increasingly severe market competition in the late post-reform era. This pattern of reversal is further supported by the ancillary analysis based on human capital model. It shows when age at first marriage is held at the level of 1985 marriage cohort, husbands' earning premium to wives may diverge downwardly from that based on the actual levels. This indicates the narrowed gender gap of education may be accompanied by the increased spousal age gap so as to maintain the convention of hypergamy.

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Presented in Session 66: Marriage Formation in Historical and Comparative Perspective