Patrilocal, Matrilocal or Neolocal? Intergenerational Proximity of Married Couples in China

Tak Wing Chan, Institute of Education, University College London
John Ermisch, University of Oxford
Rob Gruijters, University of Oxford

Patrilocality, the tendency of married couples to live with or close to the husband's parents, is a core tenet of traditional Chinese society. In recent decades, however, this custom has been challenged by large-scale internal migration as well changes in family values and preferences. Against this background, the study analyses the current patterns and determinants of couples' proximity to both sets of parents. It uses the China Family Panel Study, a recent nationally representative dataset that contains extensive information on Chinese couples and their parents. The findings show that patriarchal norms still exert a strong influence over couples' residential decisions. Coresidence with the husband's parents is highly common, particularly for young couples that have recently married. Matrilocality is much rarer, although it becomes more likely when the wife has no brothers. We discuss implications for old age security, gender relations and son preference.

Presented in Session 91: Linked Lives and the Lifecourse