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Abstract

In recent years, Asian countries have experienced rising rates of premarital cohabitation, mirroring a similar trend that could be observed in many European countries several decades ago. As international differences in these trends are often attributed to institutional and societal differences, this study explores how China’s and Germany’s welfare and cultural regimes relate to national differences in the timing and prevalence of premarital cohabitation and direct marriage.

On the basis of two post-hoc harmonized surveys (pairfam for Germany; CFPS for China), descriptive analyses and logistic regressions were conducted. A higher standardization of partnership trajectories during the transition to adulthood was observed in China; this being probably related to China’s collectivist and Germany’s individualistic culture. While urban–rural differences prevail in China, and are attributable to China’s hukou system, East and West Germans differ considerably in this regard, a finding which can be traced back to regional differences in historical legacy. Discrepancies in economic modernization explain why the likelihood of experiencing these events differs for individuals in the Eastern and Western Chinese provinces.

Besides these differences, the two national contexts resemble each other in the prevalence of educational hypergamy, as well as in greater rates of cohabitation prior to first marriage, in contrast to direct marriage, seen among wealthier individuals and those with higher education. For the first time, the effects of cultural and institutional differences on the transition to adulthood were compared between a collectivistic vs. individualistic cultural regime and a productivist vs. corporatist conservative welfare regime, enabling researchers to draw conclusions about the link between cultural and welfare regime types and partnership patterns.

Keywords:

Germany, China, premarital cohabitation, transition to adulthood, CFPS, pairfam, marriage, culture, welfare regime

Publisher:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Citation:

Barbara E. Fulda , (2017), The Transition to Adulthood in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures: Prevalence and Timing of Premarital Cohabitation and First Marriage in Germany and China, in Christina L. Scott , Sampson Lee Blair (ed.) Intimate Relationships and Social Change (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Volume 11) Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.145 - 172