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Portrait Lisa Eklund. Photo: Emma Lord.

Lisa Eklund

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Portrait Lisa Eklund. Photo: Emma Lord.

Understanding Bachelorhood in Povertystricken and High Sex Ratio Settings : An Exploratory Study in Rural Shaanxi, China


  • Isabelle Attané
  • Lisa Eklund
  • Giovanna M. Merli
  • Michel Bozon
  • Tania Angeloff
  • Bo Yang
  • Shuzhuo Li
  • Thierry Pairault
  • Su Wang
  • Xueyan Yang
  • Qunlin Zhang

Summary, in English

Coupled with the social practice of female hypergamy, the male surplus within the never-married population means that today’s Chinese marriage market is extremely tight in particular for men from a rural background and the least privileged socio-economic categories. Drawing on quantitative data from a survey conducted in 2014–2015, this article sheds light on the situation of single men who are past prime marriage age in three rural districts of Shaanxi particularly affected by this phenomenon. It compares single men’s characteristics to those of their married counterparts and offers insights into
the heterogeneity of single men with the aim of challenging some commonly
accepted assumptions about bachelorhood in rural China. Results suggest a
strong internalization of the various characteristics, centred on being able to
offer social mobility to a potential wife, that a man is expected to have to be attractive to women in a context where women have more choice in mate selection. We conclude that mate selection is highly marked by class, social norms, social interactions, health, generation and age, and requires the mobilization of certain amounts of individual, social and economic resources. Unwanted bachelorhood would thus be better understood using an intersectional approach rather than mainly in numeric terms.


  • Sociology
  • Centre for Economic Demography

Publishing year







China Quarterly



Document type

Journal article


Cambridge University Press


  • Sociology




  • ISSN: 1468-2648