China has implemented education reform policy to expand enrollment of higher education since 1999. The university enrollment expansion has given more people access to higher education. A large number of unmarried " age-appropriate” populations have emerged in society because the extension of education years has delayed the average age of marriage in China. With the emergence of so-called " leftover men” and " leftover women”, an increasing number of scholars argue that the main reason for the new " single tide” lies in the expansion of university enrollment policy. However, according to the existing theories and research, the scope expansion of higher education groups does not necessarily lead to an increase in single population. Especially in areas where the gender division of labor is not obvious, higher education can even improve the efficiency of marriage matching. Therefore, the influence of enrollment expansion policy on the marriage rate in China whose gender division of labor is not obvious and whose proportion of dual-earner families is larger is still controversial. Relevant statistics show that Chinese marriage rate has shown a rising trend since 2003, and the demographic age structure cannot fully explain this trend. So, are current Chinese young people opting for not getting married or just postponing the age of marriage? This paper attempts to use synthetic control method to answer this question. To this end, we use the first year of undergraduate graduation (2003) influenced by the higher education enrollment expansion policy as the impact node, then compare real Chinese marriage rate with Synthetic China marriage rate to explore the influence of the enrollment expansion policy on Chinese marriage rate. The results show that real Chinese marriage rate was almost the same as Synthetic China marriage rate before 2003; yet the marriage rate of China is significantly higher than Synthetic China marriage rate, and the gap between them is getting wider and wider since 2003. This means that the university enrollment expansion does not lead to the reduction in the marriage rate, but promotes the increase in Chinese marriage rate. The conclusion still remains true through two kinds of placebo inspections which exclude other factors and the impact of the subjectivity of the impact point. Considering the different impacts of higher education on the opposite sex marriage behaviors, we further study male and female marriage rates. Then we find that the policy has positive impacts on both male and female marriage rates, and the effect on women is bigger than on men. The main reason is that the expansion of enrollment has significantly increased the proportion of women receiving higher education, which is conducive to women’s marriage in the context of the increasingly prominent nature of the " homogeneity” of marriage and the " double income” model of family in China. The results of this study show that the higher education enrollment expansion not only improves the human capital level of the whole society, but also benefits the matching efficiency of the marriage market.
Does Higher Education Enrollment Expansion Really Reduce the Marriage Rate in China? New Evidence from Synthetic Control Method
Journal of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Vol. 20, Issue 03, pp. 93 - 109 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jsufe.2018.03.007
Cite this article
Liu Bofan, Liu Ye. Does Higher Education Enrollment Expansion Really Reduce the Marriage Rate in China? New Evidence from Synthetic Control Method[J]. Journal of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, 2018, 20(3): 93-109.
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