Sihe Li

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In the context of the growing amount of socio-demographic literature on marriage, this thesis explores a theoretical synthesis for an analysis on Chinese women's experience in transition to the married state, based on the China In-Depth Fertility Survey data.;The frequently cited general theories or models of marriage are broadly categorized into mathematical models and behavioural interpretations of marriage. Of the latter, the theoretical work is conventionally divided into economic and sociological perspectives. However, there exists no theoretical consensus on marriage comparable to that achieved with regard to fertility.;The thesis examines the most familiar economic and sociological theories on marriage and puts forward an analytical framework based on some clear behavioural assumptions. It is proposed that marriage can be seen as a function of motivation to marry and probability of finding a suitable mate.;The thesis conducts a multistate/multivariate analysis. The multistate life table techniques are used to model the transition from entering marriage market to betrothal, and then to married state. The findings of differential transition probabilities to betrothed and married state by birth cohorts and by place of residence help to enhance the understanding of the change in timing of nuptiality. The multivariate models examine the interrelationship between betrothal, early marriage and a set of socio-economic control variables. The analytical results have shown significant relationships between certain socio-economic characteristics, such as place of residence, birth cohort and educational attainment, and the occurrence of events of interest, i.e. betrothal and early marriage.;In conclusion, the theoretical explanations on motivation, personal quality and mate-search effectiveness in relation to the probability of betrothal and early marriage are supported in the substantive analysis. A comprehensive understanding of Chinese women's experience of transition to the married state, however, requires more in-depth analyses of better designed survey in the future.



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