Gender, Marital Transitions and Mental Health in China

Yang Zhang1, Menghan Zhao2
1University of Michigan, 2Renmin University of China

The retreat of egalitarian gender ideology and the exacerbation of gender inequality in labor markets complicate the issue of gender differences in the association between marital transitions and subsequent mental health in the post-reform era of China. It is also unclear what roles socio-economic status play in the association between marital transitions and mental health. Using data from the China Family Panel Studies, this study reveals that even though getting married is associated with enhanced mental health and widowhood is associated with increased distress for both males and females, divorce does not have an equivalent influence on males and females. Females psychologically suffer more from the dissolution of marriage than males. In addition, subjective SES is only influential in ameliorating the adverse psychological consequences for females, not for males. “The future of marriage” that provides equal advantages to females and males, proposed by Bernard, has not arrived yet in China.