The Timing of Marriage in China
25 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2003
Date Written: July 21, 2002
This paper examines the determinants of the marriage timing decisions of young men and women in China. We pay particular attention to distinguishing three explanations for marriage timing: the independence hypothesis, which emphasizes growing economic independence; the career cycle hypothesis, which highlights the difficulty of school-to-work transition; and the search costs hypothesis, which point to structural factors of marriage markets related to search costs. The data set is a sample of Chinese couples with ample variations in marriage market features, personal characteristics, and regional patterns of growth. Exploiting the differences in marriage timing among the couples in our data set, we find empirical results that are largely consistent with the notion that marriage gains, search costs, and job complexity determine the timing of marriage. In particular, marriage is likely to be delayed for urban (but not rural) men and women with higher wage. Regional economic growth appears to slow down the tendency to get married for both men and women and in both cities and the countryside. Access to network of young people (via the Communist Youth League) facilitates marriage for all young people. Better-educated young people tend to get married later in life.
Keywords: marriage timing, job complexity, search costs, school-to-work transition
JEL Classification: J1, O1, D1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation