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Eva RAIBER - Aix Marseille Université

" What do parents want ? Parental spousal preferences in China "

Abstract :
In many societies, parents are involved in the process of selecting a spouse for their child. What type of spouse do parents want for their children ? We estimate parents’ spousal preferences based on survey choices between randomly created profiles. Preference data are elicited from parents or other relatives who actively search for a spouse on behalf of their unmarried adult child in the capital of Yunnan, China. We confirm that economic variables (specifically income and real estate ownership) are important for the choice of sons-in-law, but not for daughters-in-law. Education, however, is valued on both sides. Parents display a preference for Han ethnicity but only for male profiles. We simulate marriage outcomes based on the preferences for age and education and compared them with observed marriage patterns in the general population. While educational homogamy is well explained by parental preferences, the age patterns are less so : Parents prefer younger wives, yet most couples have the same age. Additionally collected preferences data from students, however, can explain the age distributions well and survey data from parents suggest that while they prefer younger wives, they also accept wives of the same age.