Long Term Implications of a Hypergamous Society

Published on Author ellingerw17

Hypergamy, or the tendency for women to “marry men who are better educated than themselves”, has had a profound effect on the marriage market in China. According to research conducted by phD candidate Yue Qian, approximately 55% of educated Chinese males marry a female who is less educated than himself, while only around 32% of educated females marry a male who is less educated than herself. Marriage Rate

Additionally, Yue Qian also mentions that there is such a thing as “age hypergamy”, or the fact that men are 50 times as likely to marry a younger spouse than women. This, in turn, skews the Chinese marriage market, as younger women are extremely likely to get married, because they can marry men their age or older, while older women struggle to get married in general as they must compete against younger women for a spouse their age.

However, one area that the article fails to mention is the long term implications of a skewed marriage market in China. Due to the nature of the marriage market, many successful, well-educated businesswomen are struggling to find a spouse. This is due to the fact that, often, these women put off getting married in order to focus on their education and career. Generally, by the time they are ready to look for a spouse and start a family, their dating pool is narrowed to men their age and older, as it is unlikely that they marry a male who is younger. As a result, these well-educated successful women have a difficult time getting married due to their age and education level.

This is a problem in China, as successful businesswomen are the least likely to marry and reproduce due to the skewed marriage market. Strictly from a reproduction standpoint, this could be harmful in the long-term, as very qualified, well-educated women who have genes that enable them to be successful are not passing those genes along to future generations, which could have a significant impact on China’s economy in the future.




3 Responses to Long Term Implications of a Hypergamous Society

  1. Good for including the graph.

    Are “successful, well-educated businesswomen” so numerous that this matters for China’s overall demographic profile?

    What are the implications for men in farm villages? Other implications?

    In particular, what does the article I suggested we all read have to say: Han, Hongyun. “Trends in Educational Assortative Marriage in China from 1970 to 2000.” Demographic Research 22 (April 27, 2010): 733–70. doi:10.4054/DemRes.2010.22.24.

  2. Is there a path that the government might take to encourage hypergamy of males or is this merely a social phenomena that will be unaffected by governmental intervention? Could improving the outreach of women’s educational programs even the playing field, so to speak?

    • That’s a good question.

      In my opinion, it is likely the latter; that this process of hypergamy is a social phenomena. Now that this process of hypergamy has been occurring for some time now, it has become the norm for older men to seek out younger women, and for women to marry up. However, one of the ways the government has been limiting this social process is through educational reform. The Chinese government has required that everyone must complete at least nine years of education, and they have opened many post-secondary institutions since the late 1970’s. This creates a more homogenous education level overall, which might help limit the process of hypergamy, but I don’t think it will significantly alter the process that is occurring here.