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Love, Life, and “Leftover Ladies” in Urban China

You, Jing and Yi, Xuejie and Chen, Meng (2016): Love, Life, and “Leftover Ladies” in Urban China.

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Abstract

The Chinese urban society in recent years has shown rising age at first marriage and declining marriage rates, especially among professional females with at least college degrees in their late 20s or their 30s. We exploit two nationally representative datasets over the period 2008-2012 and investigate the determinants of forming marriage for urban women aged 27 or above who are termed “leftover”. We estimate a recursive and dynamic mixed-equation model to describe women’s joint decisions on career, education and marriage. This considers various traits including demographic characteristics, wealth, work-related indicators, personality, attitudes and expectation, physical and facial attractiveness, leisure activities, personal and parental social status, local gender identity norms and marriage market conditions. We find “marital college-discount”: college education reduces the probability of marriage by 2.88%-3.6% and a postgraduate degree further oppresses it by 8.4%-10.4%. Counterfactual analysis indicates monotonicity, complementarity and substitution in multidimensional matching patterns. Patriarchy still appears to prevail.

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