ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The Ecology of Choice and Implications for Social Policy in China

Marriage Squeeze and Mate Selection

The marriage squeeze in China, whereby the sex ratio imbalance leaves many males without a marriage partner, is not only about numbers, but also about how the institution of marriage is socially, economically, and politically underpinned. This paper uses the concept of ecology of choice in mate selection to demonstrate how different social processes and practices have ramifications on who can marry, who they can marry, and under what circumstances. It points to the historical and cultural practices of patrilineage, hypergamy, and concubinage, which contributed to a marriage squeeze long before the sex ratio at birth became an issue. It also examines how the policies of the Chinese Communist Party have affected social institutions related to marriage, reinforcing the marriage squeeze, and discusses the implications of this.



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