Volume 37 - Article 18 | Pages 567–598

Marriage in an immigrant society: Education and the transition to first marriage in Hong Kong

By Muzhi Zhou, Xiaogang Wu, Guangye He

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:08 Mar 2017
Date published:30 Aug 2017
Word count:7627
Keywords:cross-border marriage, education, Hong Kong, immigration, marriage


Background: The prevalence of marriages between locals and immigrants is likely to alter the relationship between education and marriage. However, there has been little empirical research on the implications of a large immigration population for the relationship between education and marriage. Hong Kong provides an ideal setting to investigate this issue.

Methods: This article examines the role of education in union formation for both men and women across two birth cohorts and the effect of education on marriages with local or immigrant spouses, using data from the 2011 Hong Kong Population Census and the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics [HKPSSD].

Results: In contrast to findings in many other societies, local men’s education has little effect on union formation. Further analysis reveals that their education is positively associated with marrying a Hong Kong-born spouse but negatively associated with marrying an immigrant spouse born in mainland China. For local women, education has a negative effect on marrying either local or immigrant spouses, but this effect diminishes over time. These findings suggest an increasing importance of women’s economic prospects in union formation in a society like Hong Kong where there is a high cost of living.

Contribution: As the first study analysing the role of education in men and women’s marriages, over time and with local or immigrant spouses in Hong Kong, this article shows the growing importance of women’s economic prospects in union formation. It also demonstrates that the presence of an enlarged pool of potential partners due to immigration can moderate the commonly assumed positive relationship between men’s education and marriage.

Author's Affiliation

Muzhi Zhou - University of Oxford, United Kingdom [Email]
Xiaogang Wu - Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong [Email]
Guangye He - Nanjing University, China [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Japanese adolescents' time use: The role of household income and parental education
Volume 44 - Article 9

» Family status and women’s career mobility during urban China’s economic transition
Volume 44 - Article 8

» A new family equilibrium? Changing dynamics between the gender division of labor and fertility in Great Britain, 1991–2017
Volume 40 - Article 50

» Not a zero-sum game: Migration and child well-being in contemporary China
Volume 38 - Article 26

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» The growth of education differentials in marital dissolution in the United States
Volume 45 - Article 26    | Keywords: education, marriage

» Educational heterogamy during the early phase of the educational expansion: Results from the university town of Tartu, Estonia in the late 19th century
Volume 43 - Article 13    | Keywords: education, marriage

» Educational and age assortative mating in China: The importance of marriage order
Volume 41 - Article 3    | Keywords: education, marriage

» The increasing mortality advantage of the married: The role played by education
Volume 38 - Article 20    | Keywords: education, marriage

» Postponement and recuperation in cohort marriage: The experience of South Korea
Volume 35 - Article 35    | Keywords: education, marriage