The influence of educational attainment on the age of first marriage

YANG Kewen1 LI Guangqin2

(1.School of Public Administration, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, Sichuan, China 611130)
(2.Jiyang College, Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University, Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China 311800)

【Abstract】With the appearance of late marriage and non-marriage in most industrialized countries in the world, the concept of marriage and love held by the younger generation in China is also undergoing tremendous changes. Against the background of the increasingly serious aging problem in China, it is particularly necessary to investigate the phenomenon of late marriage of individual residents. To this end, the relationship between educational attainment and the age of first marriage was investigated using the data of China Labor-force Dynamic Survey in 2016. The results show that educational attainment has a significant positive effect on the age of first marriage, and for every 1-year increase in education, the age of first marriage is increased by 0.11 years. The conclusion is still valid through the robustness test after changing the measurement method of educational attainment. In consideration of the inaccurate measurement of educational attainment, the possible inverse causality between the age of first marriage and educational attainment, and the possible omission of variables, the two-stage least squares estimation using instrumental variables was conducted to validate the results. Gender-specific studies find that educational attainment has a positive impact on the age of first marriage for women, but not for men. The regression analyses of age-specific samples indicate that the higher the education level is, the younger the age of first marriage tends to be for those born before the 1950s; and for individuals born after the 1950s, the education level has a significant positive effect on the age of first marriage, and the coefficient is increasing. Further analyses of the impact mechanism find that the parents’ educational transmission has a positive impact on their children’s first marriage age through education, and the parents’ agricultural household registration and the number of siblings have a negative impact on their children’s first marriage age through education. In order to alleviate the degree of population aging and promote the healthy development of China’s economy, it is suggested that the state should introduce appropriate policies to reduce the age of first marriage.

【Keywords】 educational attainment; first marriage age; educational transmission; instrumental variable;


【Funds】 Key Project of Major Humanities and Social Sciences Projects in Colleges and Universities of Zhejiang (2014QN027)

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This Article


CN: 22-1017/C

Vol 40, No. 06, Pages 5-19

November 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Literature review and theoretical hypotheses
  • 3 Research design
  • 4 Empirical results and analysis
  • 5 Mechanism analyses
  • 6 Conclusion and policy suggestions
  • References