Social Change and Age Hypergamy: The Shift in Spousal Age Preferences in Taiwan, 1976-2012

Yen-Hsin Alice Cheng, Academia Sinica

Compared to assortative mating by education, age patterns of marriage are relatively less studied in past research. Even though a trend toward more age hypogamy has emerged in many countries, very little research has been done to explore the patterns of such changes. This paper plans to use vital statistics and marriage registration data to investigate the changing age patterns of marriage from 1976 to 2012 in a rapidly changing society of Taiwan. The findings show that an emerging trend toward more female age hypogamy and fewer traditional age hypergamy has taken place since the mid-1970s, especially during the post-millennium years. Mean age difference between husbands and wives are shrinking and more age homogamous unions have been formed since 1998. Compared to the patterns observed in 2000, age hypogamy tends to be more prevalent among educationally hypogamous couples in 2010. Potential causes and implications of these changes will be discussed.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households