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Love, life, and “leftover ladies” in urban China: Staying modernly single in patriarchal traditions

Jing You (), Xuejie Yi and Meng Chen

China Economic Review, 2021, vol. 68, issue C

Abstract: The population in urban China has shown rising age at first marriage and declining marriage rates, especially among college educated professional women who are in their late 20s or their 30s. We investigate the determinants of marriage formation for urban women aged 27 or above who tend to be termed “leftover ladies”. We estimate a recursive mixed-equation model to describe correlated profiles of career, education and marriage. Conventional social norms on gender, especially patriarchy, still prevail. Factors that are not favorable for a conventionally wifely role reduce women's likelihood of marriage. In particular, we reveal a “marital college-discount” of college education. It reduces the probability of marriage by 2.88%–3.6% and a postgraduate degree further oppresses it by 8.4%–10.4%. Favorable characteristics such as facial attractiveness only raises the likelihood of marriage formation for non-college educated women, while pushing up non-marriage probabilities for women with at least college degrees.

Keywords: Marriage; Gender; Female education; Social norms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J12 J16 J17 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2021.101626

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China Economic Review is currently edited by B.M. Fleisher, K. X. D. Huang, M.E. Lovely, Y. Wen, X. Zhang and X. Zhu

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