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Marital Age Homogamy in China: A Reversal of Trend in the Reform Era?

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionMu, Zheng, and Yu Xie. 2011. "Marital Age Homogamy in China: A Reversal of Trend in the Reform Era?" PSC Research Report No. 11-742. 8 2011.

Social homogamy refers to the degree to which individuals with similar social characteristics marry each other. An increase in homogamy based on such attributes as socioeconomic status, education, and race and ethnicity has been considered indicative of a decline in social openness and an increase in social inequality. Compared to other forms of social homogamy, age homogamy has received less attention among researchers. Age homogamy, however, is also an important indicator of social closure and gender inequality, as large age differences between spouses have been associated with more patriarchal family systems and less spousal intimacy. This study covers trends in age homogamy in China, 1960 to 2005, using indicators based on Schoen’s forces of attraction. We use a random sample of the nationally representative China 2005 1% Population Inter-census. Instead of a consistent increase, as expected, results show an inverted U-shaped trend in age homogamy. One plausible explanation is the reversal towards “necessity considerations” in mate-selection during the post-1990 reform era.

Country of focus: China.

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