A Comparative Study of Determinants of Uxorilocal Marriage in Two Counties of China
A strictly maintained patrilineal family system makes virilocal marriage almost universal and uxorilocal marriage rare in the history of rural China. Uxorilocal marriage can be divided into two types that may be termed, respectively, contingent and institutional. The former preserves family lineages in families without a son and occurs when uxorilocal marriage is uncommon. The latter serves practical economic purposes in families with sons and occurs when uxorilocal marriage is relatively prevalent. Using data from a survey in two counties of Shaanxi-Lueyang, where both kinds of uxorilocal marriage are prevalent, and Sanyuan, where uxorilocal marriage is rare and usually contingent-this paper employs logistic regression models in a quantitative comparative study of determinants of uxorilocal marriage in rural China. We show that the purposes and prevalence of the two types of uxorilocal marriage differ and that their determinants are also different in the two counties. In Sanyuan, the determinants are only a couple's sibling composition, membership in a large family clan, and educational level. In Lueyang, in addition to those determinants in Sanyuan, important contributions to the type of uxorilocal marriage include a couple's parental marriage type, age at marriage, adoption status, marriage arrangement, and their attitudes toward uxorilocal marriage. The results indicate the potential importance of encouraging uxorilocal marriage in rural areas as a means of mitigating demographic and social problems related to son preference, such as high sex ratio at birth and lack of old-age security, which are projected for China's future.
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