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Couple Similarity and Life Satisfaction: A Study of Young Couples in Shanghai of Mainland China

Chinese Families: Tradition, Modernisation, and Change

ISBN: 978-1-80071-157-0, eISBN: 978-1-80071-156-3

Publication date: 25 January 2021


Purpose: This study investigates how couple similarity in various aspects affects their life satisfaction and how these impacts vary across educational groups among the young married couples in Shanghai.

Methodology: This study employs the pooled data from three waves of the Fudan Yangtze River Delta Social Transformation Survey which sampled Shanghai youths born between 1980 and 1989, the first single-child generation. Couple similarity is evaluated through the comparison in age, hukou status, education, and income quartile between the husband and wife. Ordered logistic regression model is applied to assess the impacts of couple similarity on life satisfaction.

Findings: Marriage hypergamy in age, education, and income barely have any impacts on couples’ life satisfaction, while hukou comparison, as an important indication of social stratification in Shanghai, is strongly associated with life satisfaction. The couple in which husband holds the urban hukou and wife rural hukou as well as the couple in which both partners hold the urban hukou are significantly happier than those in which both partners hold the rural hukou. Such a positive impact is partially explained by the higher husband’s decision-making power in male-advantaged families. Moreover, husband’s urban hukou status is especially important for those without college education, but not for those with college education.

Values: This chapter highlights the importance of hukou hypergamy in life satisfaction for married couples, in particular, lower-educated couples in Shanghai. These findings reveal an implicit but persistent preference for male-dominated family model, where husbands retain a higher decision-making power that, in turn, promotes life satisfaction for both partners.




The study is supported by China Social Science Foundation (17CRK023).


Shen, K., Xu, H.B., Joshi, O. and Chen, F. (2021), "Couple Similarity and Life Satisfaction: A Study of Young Couples in Shanghai of Mainland China", Kan, M.-Y. and Blair, S.L. (Ed.) Chinese Families: Tradition, Modernisation, and Change (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 107-126.



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