Zavoretti, Roberta. (2014) ‘My generation had it all easy’: accounts of anxiety and social order in post-Mao Nanjing. Cambridge Anthropology, 32(2), pp. 49-64. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ca.2014.320206
In urban China, young people are under increasing pressure to embody the ideal of a financially secure ‘match’. At the same time, their parents define marriage as ‘a family matter’ and provide a large part of the starting fund for their children’s new family. This situation often leads to inter-generational tensions, which can be fully appreciated only by looking back at the life experiences of the parents. Many members of this older generation were displaced to the countryside to ‘learn from the peasant masses’. In their accounts of those times, marriage was a troubling issue as most of them did not want to marry villagers for fear of getting stuck in the countryside. The anxieties of the old and new generations seem to be underpinned by policies promoted by state and market respectively; however, informants point to the state as the main source of responsibility for both change and continuity.
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Deborah S. Davis and Sara L. Friedman (eds.), 2014, Wives, husbands, and lovers. Marriage and sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Urban China, Stanford University Press. 340 p.
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What is the state of intimate romantic relationships and marriage in urban China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan? Since the 1980’s, the character of intimate life in these urban settings has changed dramatically. While many speculate about the 21st century as Asia’s century, this book turns to the more intimate territory of sexuality and marriage—and observes the unprecedented changes in the law and popular expectations for romantic bonds and the creation of new families.
Wives, Husbands, and Lovers examines how sexual relationships and marriage are perceived and practiced under new developments within each urban location, including the establishment of no fault divorce laws, lower rates of childbearing within marriage, and the increased tolerance for non-marital and non-heterosexual intimate relationships. The authors also chronicle what happens when states remove themselves from direct involvement in some features of marriage but not others. Tracing how the marital “rules of the game” have changed substantially across the region, this book challenges long-standing assumptions that marriage is the universally preferred status for all men and women, that extramarital sexuality is incompatible with marriage, or that marriage necessarily unites a man and a woman. This book illustrates the wide range of potential futures for marriage, sexuality, and family across these societies.
In September 2013, the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan released a research report on how the factors for marriage entry in China have evolved.
The authors, Jia Yu and Yu Xie, explore the determinants of marriage age in China and the changes caused by economic reforms.
Their study, based on the 2005 mini-census, reveals that in urban China people marry later and are more selective in their choice of partner than in the past.
This paper suggests that the timing of marriage is related to employment status, education and real estate prices. In the pre-reform era, people with less education tended to get married earlier. However, this has changed with the economic reforms. People (and especially men) with less education have become undesirable as marriage partners, as they lack financial resources to support a family.
The most interesting part of this study regards the impact of real estate prices on when people get married. Because of privatization and marketization, real estate prices have increased dramatically since the early 1980s, and young couples need to save first to afford to live together and get married. In cities with high housing prices, marriage is often delayed, but graduates get married earlier, as they have a higher social position and earn more. People in poverty or without stable jobs face many challenges if they wish to get married.