Are the More Educated Less Likely to Divorce? Changing Educational Gradient of Divorce in China

Haoming Song

The relationship between education and divorce has changed from positive to negative in developed countries, in part due to the decline of divorce costs. Having experienced tremendous family changes during the past 40 years, China provides an interesting case where economic and social cost associated with divorce are still high. In this paper, I explore whether the negative educational gradient of divorce exists in China and offer explanations based on my in-depth interviews in China. Using data from the Survey of Chinese Women’s Social Status in 2010, my analysis shows that less educated individuals are more likely to divorce than their highly educated counterparts among those who married over the 2000-2010 period. The interviews with divorced people suggest that changing gender relations and specific contextual modifications help account for the transition. This paper contributes to the understanding of the relationship between education and divorce in a developing context like China.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions