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Seminar: Deprivation or Difference? Factors Shaping the Marital Quality of Cross-Border Marriages

Susanne Choi, Fulbright Scholar, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
When Sep 23, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Cross-border marriages, sometimes referred to as international marriages, between younger women from less developed countries and older men from more developed countries have increased rapidly in the last two decades. Women from Mainland China have joined the trend and married out to places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Being one of the most popular destinations for marriage migrants from China, these types of marriages constituted nearly 45% of newly registered marriages in Hong Kong in 2011. The marital quality of cross-border marriages has started to attract scholarly attention because age and cultural differences between the marital partners seems to be built into their union formation (the difference thesis). Furthermore, the mechanism of self-selection often means that men from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to have a foreign wife because their economic deprivation inhibits them from finding a partner locally. Marrying a husband with a disadvantaged background also means that foreign wives may experience more financial stress compared with other women (the deprivation thesis).  Using couple data collected in Hong Kong, this paper compares the marital quality, measured by martial conflict and psychological aggression, of local and cross-border couples and tests the difference and deprivation theses. Our analysis showed that foreign wives’ financial stress, husband’s traditional gender role attitude, and a 6-9 year old age gap between husband and wife significantly increased the risk of marital conflict and psychological aggression in cross-border marriages, thus providing some preliminary support to both the deprivation and difference theses. We, however, did not find significant differences between local and cross-border couples in terms of factors that shaped their marital quality, hence providing some evidence that the deprivation and difference theses may be similarly applicable to local and cross-border marriages. 

About the Speaker

Susanne Choi

Susanne Choi Yuk Ping (D.Phil. in Sociology, Nuffield College, University of Oxford), is a Fulbright Scholar at the Department of Sociology, Harvard University, between September and December 2013. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is also the Co-Director of the Gender Research Centre, the Associate Director of the Centre for Chinese Family Studies, and the first Director of the Pearl River Delta Social Research Centre. Her research interests include gender, family, health, migration, and transitional justice. Her current projects examine the impacts of migration on family life in Chinese societies. Some of her works were published in American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Marriage and Family, International Migration Review, The China Quarterly, and Sociology of Health and Illness.

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