China’s imbalanced sex ratio has increased the prevalence of hypergamous (marrying up) and hypogamous (marrying down) marriages. We explore the implications of this phenomena for satisfaction with one’s spouse in terms of sexual satisfaction along a range of dimensions, care received from one’s spouse, affection expressed to, and received from one’s spouse and the prevalence of domestic violence in the home. The main argument that we develop in the paper is that assortative mating is associated with higher satisfaction levels with one’s spouse because those involved in homogamous marriages will have more shared values, have more empathy for each other and be better able to communicate with each other, both in terms of everyday living and in terms of their sex lives. We test this argument using data from the China Health and Family Life Survey. We find considerable support for the argument that marrying up, or down, lowers satisfaction with one’s spouse.
- assortative mating
- sex ratio