From ‘Reds' to Riches: Contemporary Changes of Educational Assortative Mating in China from 1949 to 2000

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Room: 511
Yanrong WANG , Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Raymond Sin-Kowk WONG , Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Ever since the Chinese Communist Party took full control of the country in 1949, massive institutional transformations shattered and reshuffled traditional norms and structures, including individuals’ mate selection by depreciating the value of education, valorizing the importance of political loyalty (“red”), and thereby reducing the extent of educational homogamy and overall association. Between 1949 and 1979, political capital and class origins are paramount in determining individual’s position in the society. However, with the advent of economic and market reforms since the late 1970s, the tide has changed again. Under the new environment, de-collectivization, industrialization, and the rise of market economy all point to the rise of human capital and economic success as major determinants of one’s socioeconomic position.

Through the use of 1982, 1990, and 2000 China Population Census and 2005 Chinese mini-census, our results indicate that (1) massive political upheavals between 1950s and 1970s generally decrease the strength of educational association (ф) and increase the propensity of hypogamy; (2) the downward trend was abruptly halted since market reform and the strength of association has reversed its direction to sharply rising trend instead; and (3) assortative mating patterns in rural and urban areas are distinctively different from each other.

To further investigate whether sent-down experiences may have differential impacts on mate selection, additional analyses based on the 1995 and 2002 Chinese Household Income Project are included. Indeed, we find that the impact of sent-down experiences varies by gender, educational levels, and couples’ joint experiences.