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Chinese Marriage Markets

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Apr 17, 2011    •    274 Views

A typical young Chinese woman is looking for a husband who owns a home. Probably, she will find one because China’s single child policy and tendency toward male preference have resulted in massive gender imbalance. With so many more marriageable men than women, the husband-hunting female wields a lot of power.

Telling us more about the results of a survey of 32,000 people from 2 Chinese research groups, the NY Times explained that the real estate boom in China has divided the young male population into the haves and have-nots. The majority of women surveyed would select men with “deeds.” Yes, Chinese women care about good morals and personality, but not as much as finance. As a result, 24 million men might remain unmarried during the next decade.

The Economic Lesson

Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker tells us that marriage is about a lot more than love. Instead, we can best understand marriage by looking at utility functions and marriage markets.

People marry because they expect to, “raise their utility level above what it would be were they to remain single.” (The Essence of Becker, p. 273) Looking for their best mate, they compete in marriage markets that have demand and supply curves. To see Dr. Becker’s descriptive and quantitative explanations, you might want to look at The Essence of Becker, pp. 273-328.

What marginal utility might marriage provide to newlyweds?

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