Volume 35 - Article 20 | Pages 557–580

Marriage of matching doors: Marital sorting on parental background in China

By Yang Hu

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Date received:05 Aug 2015
Date published:31 Aug 2016
Word count:7923
Keywords:China, intergenerational relations, marital sorting, mobility, occupation, parental background


Background: Who marries whom has important implications for the (re-)production of social inequalities. Whereas previous studies on marital sorting have mainly focused on the husband’s and the wife’s traits, in this research I assess the importance of parental background in marital sorting in contemporary China in light of the tradition of marriage of matching doors.

Methods: Drawing on data from the 2006 China General Social Survey, I use log-linear models to explore the extent to which couples sort based on their parents' occupational status and hukou (household registration), and the interaction between the two.

Results: The results show a significant association between the occupational status of an individual’s father and of his or her spouse, net of the intergenerational mobility between parents and children and the assortative mating between the husband and the wife. Furthermore, there is a significant net association between the occupational status of an individual’s father and father-in-law. Parents’ hukou status also plays a pivotal role in marital sorting, in that an individual’s father and father-in-law tend to have the same rural or urban hukou. Nevertheless, the interaction between the father’s occupational status and hukou is not found to play a significant role in shaping the pattern of marital sorting.

Conclusions: Given the persistence of the tradition of marriage of matching doors, it is important to conceptualize marriage in contemporary China as a family affair, rather than a de-institutionalized, privatized, or individualized practice.

Author's Affiliation

Yang Hu - Lancaster University, United Kingdom [Email]

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