Individual vs. Social Motives in Identity Choice: Theory and Evidence from China

71 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2017

See all articles by Ruixue Jia

Ruixue Jia

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: April 1, 2017

Abstract

This paper studies how individual and social motives shape ethnicity choices for children in ethnically mixed marriages. Our theoretical framework highlights the interaction of material benefits, identity costs, and social reputations. It is consistent with two motivating facts for ethnic choices in China, and delivers a set of auxiliary predictions. In particular, due to the interplay between the stigma and the honor of breaking and respecting existing norms, social motives should crowd in (out) changes in material motives in localities where the shares of children that follow the mother's ethnicity is small (large). Empirical tests on Chinese microdata and support for this and other predictions. The estimated effects are quantitatively important and statistically robust. Various alternative theoretical and empirical explanations, including changes in bargaining power, may shed light on the pattern of ethnic choices, but cannot explain our main finding on the interplay between individual and social motives.

Keywords: marriage, ethnicity, marriage choices, china, mixed marriages, social identity

Suggested Citation

Jia, Ruixue and Persson, Torsten, Individual vs. Social Motives in Identity Choice: Theory and Evidence from China (April 1, 2017). 21st Century China Center Research Paper No. 2017-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3029045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3029045

Ruixue Jia (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive #0519
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+46 8 163066 (Phone)
+46 8 164177 (Fax)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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