Raiber, Eva, Ren, Weiwei, Bovet, Jeanne, Seabright, Paul and Wang, Charlotte (2023) What Do Parents Want? Parental Spousal Preferences in China. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 71 (3).

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Identification Number : 10.1086/717903


In many societies, parents are involved in selecting a spouse for their child, integrating this with decisions about premarital investment such as education. Do spousal preferences of parents and children conflict? We estimate parents’ spousal preferences based on survey choices between random profiles, elicited from parents or other relatives who actively search for a spouse on behalf of their adult child in Kunming, China. We simulate marriage outcomes based on preferences for age and education and compare them with patterns in the general population and with the preferences of a survey of students. The common concern that there may be aversion to highly educated or high-earning wives is somewhat corroborated in parents’ preferences but not in students’ preferences, nor in outcomes, where homogamy is common and wives who are more educated than husbands are as common as husbands who are more educated than wives. Parents prefer wives younger than their husbands, yet most couples are the same age, an outcome consistent with student preferences. Overall, divergences between parental and child preferences exist but are neither major nor very influential in explaining observed outcomes. Fears that highly educated women face diminished marriage prospects appear less serious than often claimed.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: 4 April 2023
Refereed: Yes
Place of Publication: Chicago
Divisions: TSE-R (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 04 May 2023 09:35
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2023 07:13
OAI Identifier: oai:tse-fr.eu:126716
URI: https://publications.ut-capitole.fr/id/eprint/44887
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