20th November 2018: Yang Hu to deliver speech on "Marital Disruption, Remarriage and Child Well-being in China", at the National University of Singapore
15th November 2018
Demographic and family changes in contemporary China are characterised by a dual rise in marital disruption and remarriage. Yang Hu analyses data from the China Education Panel Survey to profile and explain well-being disparities between children in intact, disrupted and remarried families. The results show that child well-being is poorer in disrupted than in intact families. Remarriage, particularly that of both parents, is associated with harm to children’s well-being over and above that associated with marital disruption. There is also considerable gender asymmetry in the well-being implications of mothers’ and fathers’ remarriage – the former is associated with a broader range and greater extent of damage to children’s well-being than the latter. Neither social selection nor economic and non-pecuniary resources explain the poorer well-being of children in disrupted families and stepfamilies compared with those in intact families. Whilst family structure mediates disparities in child well-being between disrupted and intact families, it does not explain why children in stepfamilies fare less well than those in intact families. Variations in child well-being with parents’ marital status are most consistently explained by poor parent-child relations and parental conflict. Comparative assessment of marital disruption and remarriage shows that remarriage is not just another ‘marital change’ for children. Rather, the two are qualitatively distinct. Reflecting critically on the theories of selectivity, resource deprivation and structural instability, the findings highlight the need to consider China’s distinctive sociocultural and institutional settings in configuring the implications of ongoing demographic transitions for child well-being.