Fertility, marriage pattern and husband-wife age gap: a study of Chinese urban and rural families

ZHOU Xing1 WANG Jingjing1 ZHANG Dongyu1

(1.School of Economics, Nankai University, Tianjin, China 300071)

【Abstract】This paper builds a two-period marriage matching model to explain the influence of fertility willingness on marriage search behavior and marriage matching model based on the physiological difference of fertility age between males and females. By using micro household data of the CNHS 1993 sampling survey, this paper builds two econometric models to analyze the influence of the fertility rate on marriage match patterns from the micro and macro views. Firstly, CNHS micro household data are used to empirically study the relationship between the number of children at the family level and the age gap between husband and wife, and the regression results for rural families show that there is a significant relationship between the number of children and the age gap between husband and wife. Specifically, for every additional child in the family, the age gap between husband and wife also increases by 0.27 year. Secondly, from the macroscopic perspective, the Difference in Difference (DID) method is used to analyze the impact of the birth policy on the marriage matching model, and empirically analyze the impact of the change of fertility rate on the marriage matching in urban and rural areas in China. The result shows that, after the implementation of family planning policy, fertility rates fell and households’ fertility demand has been restrained, resulting in a decline in the first marriage age gap between husband and wife. In the rural areas where fertility needs are more affected by the family planning policy, the age difference between husband and wife has become more significantly narrowed with the rapid decline in fertility. The research results show that fertility demand is an important factor affecting the marriage matching model. The change of fertility rate after the implementation of the family planning policy has a significant impact on the age difference of the first marriage between husband and wife in urban and rural areas in China.

【Keywords】 fertility; marriage pattern; the first marriage age;


【Funds】 Collaborative Innovation Center for China Economy Program of Asia Research Center in Nankai University (AS1418) Tianjin Administrative Institute, Party School of Tianjin Municipal Committee of CPC (DXKT1613)

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(Translated by WANG bo)


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This Article


CN: 22-1017/C

Vol 39, No. 06, Pages 17-26

November 2017


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Construction of two-period marriage matching model
  • 3 Empirical research from China
  • 4 Conclusions and policy recommendations
  • References