Children and Divorce in China. Does a boy protect marriage?
Abstract: This study explores the association between children and divorce in China. In particular, we estimate how the number and sex composition of children are associated with the risk of divorce across time and space. We apply event-history analysis to longitudinal data from the China Family Panel Studies. Our observation covers the 1970-2012 period. We find that childless couples have a substantially higher divorce risk than parents do, especially during the two most recent decades. The more children a couple have, the less likely they are to divorce. The effect of the child’s gender on divorce changes over time for rural and urban parents in different manners. For rural one-child parents, the child’s gender had no effect on parental divorce up to the 1990s; its effect became notable in the 2000s, with parents who had a girl having a higher divorce risk than those with a boy. For urban one-child parents, however, the child’s gender completely lost its importance for divorce over the turn of the new century. Findings of this study provide reflections on the empowerment of girls and the decline of son-preference culture in urban Chinese society.