Volume 31 - Article 45 | Pages 1337–1364  

The gender divide in urban China: Singlehood and assortative mating by age and education

By Yue Qian, Zhenchao Qian


Objective: Chinese media labels highly educated, urban women who are still single in their late 20s as "leftover ladies". We investigate whether indeed highly educated women are less likely to marry than their less-educated counterparts, and how assortative mating patterns by age and education play a role in singleness.

Methods: We use data from the urban samples of the Chinese General Social Surveys in the 2000s. In the analysis we calculate marriage rates to examine the likelihood of entry into marriage, and then apply log-linear models to investigate the assortative mating patterns by age and education.

Results: We find that as education increases, the likelihood of marriage increases among men but decreases among women, especially among those over age 30. The results from log-linear models reveal that more marriages involve better-educated, older men and less-educated, younger women.

Conclusions: We argue that persistent traditional gender roles, accompanied by the rapid rise in women's education, contribute to low marriage rates among older, highly educated women.

Author's Affiliation

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Educational and age assortative mating in China: The importance of marriage order
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