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Marriage Aspiration, Perceived Marriage Squeeze, and Anomie Among Unmarried Rural Male Migrant Workers in China

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Marriage Aspiration, Perceived Marriage Squeeze, and Anomie Among Unmarried Rural Male Migrant Workers in China

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Using data from a survey of rural–urban migrants conducted in Xiamen City, China, during 2009, this study explores determinants of anomie among unmarried rural male migrant workers in the context of China’s gender imbalance. Results indicate that the perceived marriage squeeze has exerted direct effects on anomie, and marriage aspiration has indirect effects on anomie among rural male migrant workers. The perceived marriage squeeze also has a mediating effect between marriage aspiration and anomie among unmarried rural male migrant workers. Social integration in the destination city is also a determinant of anomie among these unmarried migrant workers.
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https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988319856170
American Journal of Men’s Health
May-June 2019: 1 –16
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Original Article
An accumulation of empirical studies on the relationship
between marital status and psychological well-being in
Western societies has provided evidence supporting a
positive relationship between marital status and psycho-
logical well-being. Married individuals are better off than
unmarried individuals on several dimensions of health
(Campbell, Converse, & Rodgers, 1976; Glenn & Weaver,
1988; Schoenborn, 2004), and marriage can improve psy-
chological well-being (LaPierre, 2009; Manzoli, Villari,
Pirone, & Boccia, 2007; Seeman & Crimmins, 2006).
Other studies have challenged these findings (Gove,
Hughes, & Style, 1983; Murata, Kondo, Ojima, & Saito,
2007; Williams & Umberson, 2004) and have suggested
that it is the quality of marriage, rather than marriage
itself, that is associated with psychological well-being
(Gove et al., 1983). Marital resource theory has been
offered as an explanation for the finding that married
individuals are more likely to be healthier than unmarried
individuals. According to this theory, marriage provides
access to material and emotional resources (Robles &
Kiecolt-Glaser, 2003), which enhance the ability to adapt
to stressful events and enhances self-coping ability
(Cohen & Willis, 1985). Being unmarried is often associ-
ated with increased risk of mental problems due to lack of
financial, emotional, physical, and instrumental support
(Jang et al., 2009; Umberson, Wortman, & Kessler, 1992),
which can lead to stressful situations and emotional dis-
tress (Goldman, Korenman, & Weinstein, 1995; Kessler,
1979).
The bulk of these findings about the relationship
between marital status and mental health refers to Western
societies. Few studies have been conducted in Asian soci-
eties (Jang et al., 2009) such as China. Chinese society
differs from Western societies not only culturally but also
in being in the midst of social transition (Li, Li, &
Feldman, 2015). Gender imbalance and population
856170JMHXXX10.1177/1557988319856170American Journal of Men’s HealthLi et al.
research-article2019
1Department of Sociology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, Shaanxi,
China
2Institute for Population and Development Studies, School of Public
Policy and Administration, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi,
China
3Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies, Stanford
University, Stanford, CA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Weidong Li, PhD, Department of Sociology, Shaanxi Normal
University, No. 620, West Changan Avenue, Changan District, Xi’an,
Shaanxi, 710119, China.
Email: lwd@snnu.edu.cn
Marriage Aspiration, Perceived Marriage
Squeeze, and Anomie Among Unmarried
Rural Male Migrant Workers in China
Weidong Li, Phd1, Shuzhuo Li, Phd2,
and Marcus W Feldman, Phd3
Abstract
Using data from a survey of rural–urban migrants conducted in Xiamen City, China, during 2009, this study explores
determinants of anomie among unmarried rural male migrant workers in the context of China’s gender imbalance.
Results indicate that the perceived marriage squeeze has exerted direct effects on anomie, and marriage aspiration has
indirect effects on anomie among rural male migrant workers. The perceived marriage squeeze also has a mediating
effect between marriage aspiration and anomie among unmarried rural male migrant workers. Social integration in the
destination city is also a determinant of anomie among these unmarried migrant workers.
Keywords
marriage aspiration, marriage squeeze, anomie, gender imbalance, psychological well-being
Received November 30, 2018; revised March 3, 2019; accepted May 8, 2019
2 American Journal of Men’s Health
migration are the two important and unusual sociodemo-
graphic characteristics of China. The gender imbalance in
China has produced a large surplus of males in the mar-
riage market. Literature estimates that in China’s popula-
tion there are about 33 million surplus men (Xu & Li,
2015), most of whom are likely to confront a squeeze in
the marriage market (Li, Jiang, Attané, & Feldman,
2006). Population migration is another important sociode-
mographic phenomenon. There are more than 247 million
migrant workers in China, most of whom are rural–urban
migrants (Li, 2018). Because of the system of household
registration (hukou), the majority of rural migrant work-
ers have not only been prevented from taking up perma-
nent residence in cities, but have also been pushed into
highly labor-intensive and low-wage jobs, and have been
isolated at marginal locations in the cities (Li & Li, 2017).
These negative migration experiences might lead to at
least two deleterious consequences. The first is emotional
isolation, which is associated with the exposure to such
stressors as social isolation and work instability. The sec-
ond is the serious marriage squeeze, which is related to
the gender difference in migration. Women tend to marry
men who are better educated, and higher earning than
they are (Ehrenreich & Hochschild, 2004), which leads
women to employ marriage as a strategy to improve their
social status (Fan & Huang, 1998; Riley & Gardner,
1993). Marriage migration is a way for single rural
females to be upwardly mobile, by marrying men in more
developed regions (Fan & Huang, 1998); this makes the
gender imbalance worse in the poor rural areas. By con-
trast, there are very few ways for rural male migrants to
get urban hukou (household registration) and change their
social status. Many of them must return to their original
villages to seek marriage opportunities (Li, 2016), and
are then involved in a more serious marriage squeeze due
to gender imbalance and female marriage migration. In
the other words, unmarried rural migrant workers suffer
from the double deprivation of marriage and their socio-
economic status in the context of gender imbalance and
population migration.
The marriage squeeze has been widely recognized as
an alarming issue in China (Eklund, 2013; Yang, Attané,
Li, & Yang, 2012), and has attracted the attention of many
scholars (Merli & Hertog, 2010; Shuzhuo, Qunlin,
Xueyan, & Attané, 2010; Yang et al., 2012; Yang, Li,
Attané, & Feldman, 2017). Some studies on male bache-
lors’ psychological well-being have been conducted using
qualitative methods (Li & Li, 2008; Wei, Jin, & Li, 2008;
Zhou, Wang, Li, & Hesketh, 2011). These studies con-
verge in reporting that male bachelors share the following
problems: low socioeconomic status, shortage of social
support, and limited marriage opportunities. As a result,
they not only face multiple stressors that result from the
marriage squeeze (Li & Li, 2008; Li, Li, & Peng, 2009;
Wei et al., 2008), but are at high risk of developing poor
psychological well-being (Zhou et al., 2011). These pre-
vious studies mainly focused on describing the psycho-
logical stressors, or discussing from a structural
perspective the relation between gender imbalance and
psychological well-being among male bachelors. How
the marriage squeeze causes psychological health prob-
lems has been given little attention. Meanwhile, most of
these studies focus on general features of psychological
well-being, such as the prevalence of depression, but
neglect unmarried rural migrant workers’ individual ano-
mie. This anomie is a psychological state related to psy-
chological well-being but different from general
psychological health that is described in related literature.
Srole (1965) suggested that individual anomie is an indi-
cator of psychiatric disorders, while other studies find
that high levels of anomie may have negative effects on
adult health (Fisher, 1988; Freidl, 1997).
The marriage squeeze due to gender imbalance entails
that many surplus males have their path to marriage
blocked, and then makes surplus males fail to marry at
their marriageable age, and many, with low socioeco-
nomic status, will fail to ever marry. The result resembles
Merton’s anomie in that there is disharmony between a
goal and the means to attain it. Meanwhile, being single
not only means that an unmarried male’s regular life is
restricted but that he also fails to fill many normal adult
roles. In turn, this might lead him to depart from accepted
social norms. In addition, failing to marry also would
result in being labeled as a bachelor by other people, and
this classification can not only lead to social isolation, but
undermine the unmarried males’ self-identity, which
would lead to anomie.
The goals of getting married and achieving economic
success are hindered by gender imbalance and population
migration. The Chinese universal marriage culture
remains in place, which traps the unmarried rural migrant
workers in a disjunction between goals and means.
Merton’s anomie is an appropriate avenue to explore the
personal attitudinal anomie among unmarried males. This
study aims to delineate how marriage aspirations and the
marriage squeeze influence anomie in individual unmar-
ried males in the context of gender imbalance and popula-
tion migration. In the gender-imbalanced marriage
market, whoever anticipates marrying, whatever his age,
must face the risk of being in trouble if he lacks the
opportunity to choose a mate. The present study expands
the research objective from just older unmarried males to
all unmarried males entering the marriage market.
Although findings from this study are largely consis-
tent with the bachelor health literature, we return to ano-
mie theory, and call attention to the individual anomie
that is related to psychological well-being, but also differ-
ent from the usual mental health status. Further, we argue
Li et al. 3
that exploring the relationship between the marriage
squeeze and individual anomie among unmarried male
migrants not only helps us understand the influence of
impediments caused by gender imbalance and population
migration to unmarried males’ chances of a normal life. It
will also contribute to discussions of gender imbalance
and masculinity. In addition, individual anomie as a psy-
chological state is treated as a psychological resource
(Freidl, 1997), and believed to influence a person’s social
participation (Fisher, 1988), both of which are associated
with a person’s health. Thus, studying unmarried males’
anomie also contributes to understanding unmarried
males’ health status in the context of gender imbalance
and population migration.
Theoretical Framework
Drawing upon Durkheim’s anomie, Merton presented his
theory of anomie, and defined anomie as the dissociation
between cultural goals and institutional norms (Merton,
1968). “Structural anomie” refers to the condition in
which society places greater stress on achieving cultur-
ally preferred goals, but does not equally emphasize the
institutionalized means to achieve those goals (Rhodes,
1964). At the socio-psychological level, Merton also
advanced his strain theory to explain how individuals
adjust to a social state of anomie (Featherstone & Deflem,
2003). He claimed that under the condition of anomie, the
perceived conflict between cultural goals and institu-
tional means would result in strain at the individual level
(Merton, 1968). In order to deal with this strain, individu-
als have five ways to adapt, namely adaptation, innova-
tion, rebellion, ritualism, and retreatism. Indeed, the
central aspect of Merton’s anomie is not limited opportu-
nity for success, but rather the culturally induced pressure
to be successful (Orrù, 1987). Although Merton intro-
duces individual anomie, he does not specifically define
it. An individual’s degree of anomie is defined by Srole
(1956) as a state of mind, which refers to the social
malintegration between the individual and society and
lack of both self-identification and social identification.
A number of studies employ Srole’s anomie scale
(Srole, 1956), or Dean’s (1961) normlessness scale to
measure individual anomie, and examine the relationship
between socioeconomic status and individual anomie.
Most of these studies have supported anomie theory in
finding that people of low social status are more likely to
have high anomie (Meier & Bell, 1959; Mizruchi, 1960;
Killian & Grigg, 1962; Srole 1956; Wendell, 1957). Some
studies, however, fail to corroborate the theory, “since
class difference in deviance may not be systematically
related to discrepancies between individual aspirations
and perceived opportunity” (Rushing, 1971, p. 858).
Rhodes (1964, pp. 435) commented that “many of these
studies ignore Merton’s original formulation in which he
specifies that conformity is by far the most common
adaptation to this structurally induced stress.” He invoked
aspiration to explain the relationship between anomie and
low socioeconomic status, and identified that anomie was
more closely related to occupational aspiration than to
occupation level; anomie results from the discrepancy
between aspiration and chance for success provided by
the family’s position in the social structure.
Other literature criticizes the classic anomie theory
from different perspectives. The major criticism is that
“the disjunction between goals and means, which is
claimed to underlie anomie, has most commonly been
interpreted in socio-economic terms” (Lee, 1974) or
“blockage of goal-seeking” (Agnew, 1985). Finestone
(1976, p. 166) believes that some authors fail to under-
stand Merton’s anomie, and suggests that it should be
regarded as a disjunction between universal American
goals and lack of access to these goals. Lee (1974) sug-
gests that the disjunction between goals and means need
not be restricted to the economic sphere. She claims that
the goal of marital success is also regarded by American
culture as economic success, but the motivation for mar-
riage is largely the expectation for gratification of psy-
chological or emotional needs. If economic frustration
produces anomie, marital frustration may also do so.
Lee’s findings not only open anomie theory to a wider
range than only socioeconomic variables (Ryan, 1981),
but also point to the cultural marriage goal as marital hap-
piness at the individual level. Agnew (2006) broadens the
definition of strain (individual anomie) to include any
events or conditions that are disliked by individuals. Such
strain not only involves goal blockage, but involves the
loss of positively valued stimuli and the presentation of
negatively valued stimuli (Agnew, 2006; Aseltine, Gore,
& Gordon, 2000). Examples include the loss of a boy-
friend or girlfriend, and all kinds of stressful life events
(Agnew & White, 1992); it is the strain that creates inter-
nal pressure to produce the delinquency of anomie
(Agnew, 1995).
Like marital success in American culture, which paral-
lels Merton’s economic success, getting married is not
only a life goal but also a family obligation, which is
emphasized in Chinese traditional Confucian culture.
Being in a heterosexual relationship and getting married
is seen as a cultural norm in East Asian society (Lin,
2016); “marriage is still almost universal and the idea that
‘everybody should get married’ is widely prevalent”
(Yang et al., 2012). China’s gender imbalance and popu-
lation migration have produced a surplus of males in the
marriage market, and forced some adult unmarried male
migrants into a series of strains. On the one hand, the
unmarried male migrants would suffer a double squeeze
because of gender imbalance and the household
4 American Journal of Men’s Health
registration system. Gender imbalance can block these
paths to marriage for these surplus men, and then lead to
their frustration. Population migration is another risk fac-
tor that would reduce these unmarried males’ marriage
opportunities. Because of their exclusion from the house-
hold registration system, migrant workers have no access
to welfare that is sponsored by local governments, and
must perform insecure, poorly paid, and low-welfare
work (Li et al., 2015), which causes some of them not
only to fail to achieve their breadwinner role but also to
be unable to afford their marriage expenses, both of
which are likely to reduce their marriage opportunities.
On the other hand, experiencing marriage squeeze
might undermine the unmarried male migrant’s mascu-
linity and lead to social isolation. In the Chinese patriar-
chal culture, marriage is a core institutional part of the
family system and plays a crucial role in ensuring family
continuation (Fei, 1998). Achieving marriage not only
confers on an individual honor and prestige (Li & Chen,
1993), but involves family continuation and family honor.
Bachelors may experience social stigma (Kong, 2011),
being labeled as without “ben shi” or “neng li” (capabil-
ity; Lin, 2016). Such single men would be regarded as
outside the category of heterosexual adult males (Lin,
2016), and be treated as not fully adult or masculine
(Ehrenreich, 1983). This stigmatization not only leads the
unmarried male to be ostracized by the other group but
determines his self-identity, which leads to self-segrega-
tion. In all, bachelor status not only entails loss of pres-
tige or status, but brings shame upon the bachelor’s
family, and may result in discrimination by the commu-
nity, both of which make them suffer frustration and
stresses, erode their self-esteem and social integration,
and result in anomie, disappointment, and a sense of use-
lessness (Wei et al., 2008). Therefore, the first hypothesis
is proposed:
Hypothesis 1. The perceived marriage squeeze has a
significant influence on anomie among unmarried
rural male migrant workers.
Marriage aspiration is another important factor that
affects anomie of unmarried male migrant workers. The
motivation to marry is a precondition for the marriage
squeeze to exert an influence on unmarried males. On the
individual level, gender imbalance in the marriage mar-
ket promotes serious competition for mating opportuni-
ties, which in the context of universal marriage culture
might generate high aspiration to marry among unmar-
ried males.
High aspiration is believed to be indicative of a strong
commitment to conventional order (Hirschi, 1969).
Although conformity with the culture of universal
marriage may motivate unmarried males to seek mating
opportunities, it is likely to frustrate them in the presence
of gender imbalance. Unmarried males with high mar-
riage aspiration are likely to be more sensitive to the mar-
riage squeeze, and more anxious when they sense the
marriage squeeze than unmarried males with low mar-
riage aspiration. At the same time, the conflict between
marriage aspiration and marriage squeeze is likely to be
more serious among unmarried males with high marriage
aspiration than those with low marriage aspiration.
Therefore, unmarried males with high aspiration to marry
are likely to experience high levels of frustration and
stress, which then lead to anomie. The second hypothesis
is proposed:
Hypothesis 2. Marriage aspiration can influence ano-
mie through the meditating effect of the perceived
marriage squeeze among unmarried rural male migrant
workers.
As well as the marriage squeeze, which emerges from
gender imbalance; some migration experiences may have
important effects on unmarried rural male migrant workers.
Adaptation is a determinant of psychological well-being
among migrant workers and is related to the migration pro-
cess. Research has reported that there is a time effect in the
urban adaptive process; immigrants’ mental health is highly
vulnerable in the early stages (1-2 years after immigration),
and their mental well-being improves with length of resi-
dence (Hurh & Kim, 1990; Zhang & Tong 2006).
Unemployment and under-employment not only result in
financial strain (McKee-Ryan, Song, Wanberg, & Kinicki,
2005; Warr, 1987), but also in social isolation (Jahoda,
1982), and relative social deprivation. Because of their
hukou, most migrant workers are forced into unstable and
low-wage jobs (Li et al., 2015), which reduces their social
support resources, and makes them highly vulnerable to
strain events (Winkelmann, 2009). A robust relationship
between social support and health has been observed in
many empirical studies (Brown, Nesse, Vinokur, & Smith,
2003). Social participation in the destination city is an
important source of social support, and also the main way to
integrate into that city. Therefore, for unmarried rural male
migrant workers, their migration experiences and social
integration in the destination city should have important
effects on their urban adaption, and on their anomie.
If the logic of anomie strain is correct, there is a reason
to expect the worry incurred by the difficulty of marrying
to have a direct effect on individual anomie among these
migrants. We also expect marriage aspiration to have an
indirect effect on individual anomie though the sense of
marriage difficulty. These connections are summarized in
the diagram in Figure 1.
Li et al. 5
Data and Methods
Data
The data analyzed in this study come from the survey
“Rural-Urban Migrants Study in Y district, X City, Fujian
Province, China,” in early November 2009, carried out by
the Institute for Population and Development Studies,
Xi’an Jiaotong University (see Yue, Li, Feldman, & Du,
2010, for details). X City is one of China’s earliest Special
Economic Zones on the southeastern coast and has the
highest proportion of immigrants not only in Fujian prov-
ince, but in China. According to the “Blue Book of
Migrant Populations Social Integration 2019,” more than
2.21 million immigrants were living in X City in 2017.
Descriptive statistics for place of origin show that
migrants from 29 out of 32 provinces, autonomous
regions, and municipalities directly under the Central
Government in China. Most of the migrants in X City
come from the southern and central provinces with strong
son preference culture and high sex ratio at birth (SRB),
such as Fujian, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, Henan,
and Hunan.1 These provinces make up 90.61% of the
migrants in X City. Y District, one of X City’s six dis-
tricts, is the heart of X City and is the city’s center for
commerce, science, education, sports, tourism, and cul-
ture. According to the statistical yearbook of The People’s
Government of Y District, Y District had a population of
0.71 million in 2008, of whom 72.41% were immigrants
(rural–urban migrants are the majority). Thus, X City is a
good study site, and Y District is an excellent example of
the rural–urban migrants’ receiving areas in China.
The high migration frequency and living arrangements
of migrant workers also prevent us from using a sampling
frame and random sampling. In order to increase sam-
ple’s representativeness and diversity, and to cover all
typical occupations engaged in by rural–urban migrants,
a loose quota sampling method and cluster sampling
technique were used. First, by using such criteria as sex,
age, marital status, five survey groups were constructed
(married male, unmarried male aged 27 and below,
unmarried male aged 28 and above, married female, and
unmarried female). To ensure all survey groups contain-
ing individuals from different age groups, we predeter-
mined the minimum sample size of each group to be 200.
Thus, this survey collected relatively large size and diver-
sity sample of unmarried males. Second, in order to rep-
resent migrants from different industries, the survey also
considers industry as one of the sampling criteria. Third,
according to rural migrants’ housing arrangements, two
clusters were constructed: concentrated- housing migrants
and scattered-housing migrants. The former live in dor-
mitories or work sheds provided by their employers. The
latter live in communities, and their places of residence
are mostly rented. Lastly, according to the sampling crite-
ria mentioned previously, we sampled from the two clus-
ters in all five subdistricts of Y District in both enterprises
and communities.
The subjects are rural–urban migrants aged 16 and
above with agricultural hukou (residence permit). The
predetermined sample size was 1,500, of whom 500 were
concentrated-housing migrants and 1,000 were scattered-
housing migrants. Actually we obtained 1,507 respon-
dents of whom 59.65% were male, 35% aged 16 to 24,
43% aged 25 to 34, and 22% aged 35 and above. Further,
46.38% were married, 16% were self-employed, 37%
worked in manufacturing industries, 32% in the service
industry, 9% in the construction industry, and 6% in other
jobs. The age distribution, sex distribution, and some
typical industries of this sample are roughly identical to
the age structures of migrant worker in the 2009 Survey
Report on the Migrant Workers,2 which was issued by
National Bureau of Statistics in China. Unmarried male
respondents totaled 523, and 24.4% had missing values
of whom 88.28% were missing the variable anomie. We
deleted the cases with the missing value on the anomie
variable and built a new database. Using the raw data and
working data separately, we used descriptive statistics for
the independent variables age, marriage aspiration, and
Figure 1. Framework for anomie among unmarried rural male migrant workers.
6 American Journal of Men’s Health
marriage difficulty. There are no significant differences
between the two types of data (see Appendix A), which
means that values missing are random and there is no pat-
tern in the missing data with respect to the main vari-
ables. Further, multiple regression is used to estimate
missing values on anomie; the dependent variable is ano-
mie, and independent variables are the same as the inde-
pendent and control variables in this study. We then use
the fitted values to replace missing values for anomie.
Finally, using the fitted data, multiple regression is
employed to estimate the effects of the independent vari-
ables on the dependent variable; the results of the model
are similar to the results of the model that uses the work-
ing data (see Appendix B). Therefore, in this study we use
the working data, a sample totaling 410.
The nonprobability sampling method produces bias in
our data, which restricts our ability to generalize our find-
ings. However, given the relatively large size and diver-
sity of the sample, this data should still be appropriate for
association analyses at the cost of detailed accuracy. On
the other hand, although the data were collected through
a nonrandom sampling approach, they provided an
important channel for further developing the studies on
bachelors. Existing studies mainly focused on describing
male bachelors’ general psychological problem. In addi-
tion, they seldom addressed bachelors’ anomie that is
related to psychological well-being but different from
common mental health disorder. Lastly, none of the stud-
ies examined the relationship between marriage squeeze
and anomie quantitatively. The respondents reported their
marriage aspiration, perceived marriage squeeze, and
anomie in a face-to-face survey. Thus, the data will help
to further understand the consequences of the resulting
gender imbalance, including anomie, marriage aspira-
tion, perceived marriage squeeze, and their relationship.
Measures
Anomie was the dependent variable in the models.
Marriage aspiration and perceived marriage squeeze were
included as independent variables in the models.
Socioeconomic status (occupation, education, and
income), age, migration experience (employment status,
relative deprivation, formal organization participation,
and informal organization participation) were included as
control variables in the models. The following describes
the definition of each measure.
1. The dependent variable was anomie. The margins
of society (MOS) alienation scale, which is con-
structed on the theory of anomie and social isola-
tion, is a seven-item relative superiority scale that
assesses the current level of anomie at the indi-
vidual level. Compared with Srole’s scale, the
MOS scale “is not only quite reliable, but also
possesses a high degree of criterion” (Travis,
1992, p87). Respondents were asked whether
they agreed with, “feel all alone these days; feel
discriminated against; my whole world is falling
apart; wish I were somebody important; hard to
tell right and wrong; don’t like to live by society’s
rules; never find the right person to care enough
about me.” Responses were coded from 1 to 5.
Anomie scores are the sum of the responses on all
seven items, ranging from 7 (minimum anomie)
to 35 (maximum anomie). The higher the respon-
dent’s score, the more serious is his anomie.
Cronbach’s α test shows that scale reliability
coefficient is 0.8975.
In China, rural–urban male migrant workers are mar-
ginalized people, not only in their group identity but also
in their cultural identity within the urban–rural dual social
structure. Rural–urban male migrant workers drift
between rural and urban identities, between tradition and
modernity; the traditional habit gradually blurs, or even
collapses, but the new habits are not yet established, so
they tend to feel spiritual conflict and instability. In this
process, they are more likely to experience a feeling of
social isolation, which is why the MOS alienation scale
was employed to measure anomie.
2. Independent variables that were incorporated into
the analyses include marriage aspiration and per-
ceived marriage squeeze.
Marriage aspiration. Marriage aspiration is measured by
the degree of marriage urgency, which includes “don’t
plan to get married,” “hope to get married moderately,”
“hope to get married urgently,” we combine “don’t plan to
get married,” “hope to get married moderately” together
and call it “other,” with “other” as the contrast category.
Perceived marriage squeeze. The existing literature often
regards lack of marriage opportunity as the result of the
marriage squeeze. However, this view is out of touch with
reality. The behavior of seeking a spouse is often associ-
ated with spouse preference and characteristics. Although
the marriage squeeze would cause some unmarried males
to have difficulty in marrying, some unmarried males
would try to find a mate by changing their preferences. For
example, marrying an older woman or disabled woman is
a regular strategy for “marriage-squeezed” male bachelors.
That is to say, the marriage squeeze not only deprives some
unmarried males of marriage opportunities, but also lowers
the rate of marrying a suitable (or ideal) spouse. Lacking
opportunities to seek a suitable spouse also may lead the
unmarried person to encounter difficulties in making his
Li et al. 7
ideal marriage. Thus, both of the above force the unmar-
ried male to encounter different levels of marriage diffi-
culty due to the marriage squeeze. Further, the marriage
squeeze is not only the result of gender imbalance in the
marriage market, but also a consequence of social stratifi-
cation. Low socio-demographic status and the female mar-
riage gradient make it difficult for some single men to find
a spouse. Even in a gender-balanced marriage market,
some unmarried males with low socioeconomic status or
less desirable personal characteristics would experience
the marriage squeeze due to the female marriage gradient.
That is to say, the gender imbalance not only reduces mar-
riage opportunities for unmarried males of low socioeco-
nomic status, but increases the likelihood that unmarried
males will experience the marriage squeeze. These diffi-
culties may extend beyond objective perception of the
marriage-matching numbers; perception of the marriage
squeeze may also increase an individual’s difficulty in
marrying. Thus, this study employs difficulty of marriage
to measure the marriage squeeze, and measures the per-
ceived marriage squeeze through the respondents’ reports
of whether they have encountered or are encountering dif-
ficulty in marrying. Responses were “yes” or “no.”
3. The following control variables were controlled
throughout the analysis: socioeconomic status,
health status, age, migration experience, relative
deprivation.
Socioeconomic status. Three types of potential social status
variables were considered: occupation, education, and
income. Occupation is classified into three categories: blue-
collar worker, managerial and technical staff, and propertied
class. Education is classified into three categories: elemen-
tary school, secondary or high school, college. Income is
measured as the respondent’s monthly total income.
The relationship between marital status and anomie
may be a function of health status (Gove et al., 1983).
People who are emotionally unstable or physically handi-
capped are unlikely to get married, and if they do marry
are unlikely or unable to stay married (Martin, 1976).
Self-reported health was used to measure health status,
which includes two categories: good and fair/poor.
Age is measured in years. In interviews, if a man is
aged 28 and above and is single, he would encounter
great difficulty in getting married. If he is aged 40 or
above and still single, he would give up marriage aspira-
tion in a rural area. Thus, this article classified age into
three categories: aged 27 and below, aged from 28 to 39,
and aged 40 and above.
Migration experience. Migration experience was divided
into two categories: migration time and relative depriva-
tion. Immigrants’ mental health is highly vulnerable in
the early stages (1–2 years after immigration; Hurh &
Kim, 1990). This study classified migration time into two
categories: short (migration time less than 2 years) and
long (migration time more than 2 years).
Employment status. According to the legal working hours
in China, employment status was classified into two cat-
egories: inadequate employment (weekly working time
less than 5 days) and full employment (weekly working
time no less than 5 days).
Relative deprivation. This study constructs a short rela-
tive deprivation scale which comprises two dimen-
sions: socioeconomic status and marriage. Relative
deprivation is a four-item scale that assesses an indi-
vidual’s current level of relative deprivation. Respon-
dents were asked to rate, compared to their peer migrant
male workers, “the difficulty of dating the opposite sex;
attraction to opposite sex; personal economic condi-
tions; parents’ economic conditions.” Responses were
coded from 1 to 5. Relative deprivation is the sum of
the responses on all four items, ranging from 4 to 20.
The higher a respondent’s score, the lower is his rela-
tive deprivation.
Social participation, social support, and social integra-
tion are all beneficial to psychological well-being (Lin,
Ensel, Simeone, & Kuo, 1979; Thoits, 1982). Previous
literature has often employed marriage status (Eaton,
1978), social participation (Lin et al., 1979), and relation-
ships with friends (Wellman, 1981) to measure social
support. Here we consider two types of potential social
participation: participation in a formal organization and
informal community participation. Formal organization
participation and informal community participation both
include two categories each: yes and no.
The descriptive statistics are in Table 1.
Statistical Strategy
In order to assess relationships among marriage aspira-
tion, perceived marriage squeeze, and anomie, this study
first analyzed all the variables and the difference in ano-
mie between married male migrant workers and unmar-
ried male migrant workers. Then, multiple linear
regression was used to evaluate the effects of the fol-
lowing independent variables: marriage aspiration and
perceived marriage squeeze. The control variables
included: age, health, occupation, income, education,
formal organization participation, informal organization
participation, migration time, employment status, and
relative deprivation. To further explore determinants of
anomie among unmarried male migrant workers, we
used the Sobel–Goodman test (Sobel, 1982) to test the
relationships between marriage aspiration, marriage
8 American Journal of Men’s Health
squeeze, and anomie among unmarried male migrant
workers.
To estimate the relationship between marriage aspira-
tion, marriage squeeze, and anomie, this study constructed
six linear regression models. In the first part of the analy-
sis, model 1 and model 2 treat marriage aspiration and
marriage squeeze separately; model 3 includes marriage
squeeze and control variables to estimate the effect of the
independent variables, Model 4 includes the independent
variable of marriage aspiration as well as control vari-
ables. From these four models, this article obtains rough
estimates of the separate effects of independent variables.
Models 4, 5, and 6 allow mediation analysis. Model 4
includes the dependent variable of anomie, independent
variables of marriage aspiration, and control variables;
model 5 includes the dependent variable of marriage
squeeze and independent variables of marriage aspira-
tions and control variables. Model 6 includes the depen-
dent variable of anomie, and all the independent and
control variables.
Results
Table 2 reveals the difference in anomie between married
and unmarried males. There is a significant difference in
anomie between married and unmarried males; unmar-
ried males have significantly higher anomie than married
males.
Descriptive statistics for other independent variables
by marriage aspiration and perceived marital difficulty
are presented in Table 3. There is a positive relationship
between age and marriage aspiration, and age also has a
positive association with perceived marriage difficulty.
The rates of urgent marriage aspiration and perceived
marriage difficulty increase with age, indicating that
increasing age not only motivates unmarried males’ mar-
riage aspiration, but could reduce their marriage opportu-
nities. Second, unmarried males with fair or poor health
have higher rates of urgent marriage aspiration and per-
ceived marriage difficulty than unmarried males with
good health, suggesting that health status also affects
unmarried male’s marriage opportunities. Third, unmar-
ried males with only elementary school education also
have higher rates of urgent marriage aspiration and per-
ceived marriage difficulty, but unmarried males with
higher education also have a high rate of perceived mar-
riage difficulty. Thus, although education appears to
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of Independent Variables (N = 410).
Variables Sample Variables Sample
Anomie M/SE 19.52/6.00 Income M/SE 2050/93
Marriage aspiration, % Education, %
Hope to get married urgently 11.92 Elementary school 3.80
Other 88.08 Secondary or high school 80.25
Perceived marriage squeeze, % College 15.95
Perceive marital difficulty 31.90 Social participation
Don’t perceive marital difficulty 68.10 Formal organization participation, %
Individual factors Yes 16.71
Age, % No 83.29
Below 27 60.25 Informal community participation, %
28–39 37.72 Yes 47.34
Above 40 2.03 No 52.66
Health, % Migration experience
Fair/poor 96.46 Migration time, %
Good 3.54 Short 29.11
Social-economic status Long 70.89
Occupation, % Employment status, %
Blue-collar worker 84.05 Full employment 98.23
Managerial and technical staff 8.86 Underemployment 1.77
Propertied class 7.09 Relative deprivation M/SE 11.95/1.40
Note. Source: Data from the X City, Fujian Survey of rural–urban migrants. The first category in the categorical variable is the reference item.
M/SE = Mean/Standard Err.
Table 2. Difference in Anomie by Marital Status Among Male
Migrant Workers.
Marital status Mean/SD N F
Married 15.99 (4.73) 329 ***
Unmarried 19.52 (6.00) 410
Note. ***p < .001.
Li et al. 9
affect unmarried males’ marriage opportunities, the
mechanism is complex. Fourth, unmarried males who are
underemployed have a higher rate of perceived marriage
difficulty, indicating that employment status also shapes
unmarried males’ marriage opportunities.
Table 4 shows the difference by marriage aspiration in
marriage difficulty among unmarried male migrant work-
ers. Unmarried males with urgent marriage aspiration
have a higher rate of perceived marriage difficulty than
those with low or middle levels of marriage aspiration.
Thus, there is significant difference in marriage difficulty
according to the level of marriage aspiration.
Table 5 presents the effects of the independent vari-
ables and control variables on anomie. First, this study
examines the rough effects of the independent variables
using models 1 and 2, and finds that the two independent
variables make significant contributions to anomie.
Compared to “don’t plan to get married or hope to get
married moderately,” “hope to get married urgently”
increases the level of anomie significantly (r = 1.94; p <
.05); compared to “don’t perceive marital difficulty,”
“perceive marital difficulty” increases the level of ano-
mie significantly (r = 3.04; p < .001).
Model 3 includes the independent variable of marriage
squeeze and control variables. The results show that the
association between marriage squeeze and anomie
remains significant (r = 2.74; p < .001). Model 4 includes
the independent variable of marriage aspiration and con-
trol variables, and again marriage aspiration has a signifi-
cant effect on anomie (r = 1.96; p < .05). Thus, marriage
aspiration and marriage squeeze have significant effects
on anomie, and “hope to get married urgently” and “per-
ceived married difficulty” significantly increase the level
of anomie among unmarried male migrant workers. The
results support Hypothesis 1.
Models 4, 5, and 6 incorporate mediation analysis. For
Model 4, the independent variable of marriage aspiration
has a significant effect on anomie among unmarried male
migrant workers (r = 1.96; p < .05). For Model 5, the
independent variable marriage aspiration also has a sig-
nificant effect on the mediating variable of marriage
squeeze (r = 0.25; p < .001). Model 6 includes the inde-
pendent variable marriage aspiration, mediating variable
marriage squeeze, and control variables. We find that the
independent variable of marriage aspiration has no
Table 3. Descriptive Statistics for All Variables by Marriage Aspiration and Perceived Marriage Difficulty (N = 410).
Marriage
aspiration Perceive marital difficult
Other Urgently No Yes
Age Below 27 92.86 7.14 Age Below 27 81.09 18.91
28–39 77.18 22.82 28–39 49.66 50.34
Above 40 75.00 25.00 Above 40 25.00 75.00
Health Good 87.14 12.86 Health Good 69.03 30.97
Fair/poor 71.43 28.57 Fair/poor 42.86 57.14
Relative deprivation Relative deprivation 12.04 11.37 Relative deprivation Relative deprivation 12.15 11.53
Education Elementary school 73.33 26.67 Education Elementary school 46.67 53.33
Secondary/high school 86.12 13.88 Secondary or high school 70.66 29.34
College 92.06 7.94 College 60.32 39.68
Income Log-Income 7.48 7.53 Log-Income Income 7.47 7.53
Occupation Blue-collar worker 86.14 13.86 Occupation Blue-collar worker 67.47 32.53
Managerial/technical staff 82.86 17.14 Managerial/technical staff 77.14 22.86
Propertied class 96.43 3.57 Propertied class 64.29 35.71
Employment status Underemployment 100 0 Employment status Underemployment 42.86 57.14
Full employment 86.34 13.66 Full employment 68.56 31.44
Informal community
participation
Yes 83.96 16.04 Informal community
participation
Yes 66.84 33.16
No 88.94 11.06 No 69.23 30.77
Formal organization
participation
Yes 81.82 18.18 Formal organization
participation
Yes 69.70 30.30
No 87.54 12.46 No 67.78 32.22
Table 4. Difference in Perceived Marriage Difficulty by
Marriage Aspiration (N = 410).
Marriage aspiration
Marriage squeeze
PrDifficulty No
Urgently 65.45 34.55 ***
Other 26.86 73.14
Note. ***p < .001. Pr = significance of Pearson χ2 (Pr = 0.000).
10 American Journal of Men’s Health
significant direct effect on anomie, but the mediating
variable marriage squeeze has a significant effect on ano-
mie (r = 2.55; p < .001).
The results of the Sobel–Goodman test in Table 6 pro-
vide further evidence of the mediating effect of marriage
squeeze between marriage aspiration and anomie among
unmarried male migrant workers. There is a significant
indirect effect of marriage aspiration on anomie (r =
0.627; p < .01), but there is no significant direct effect of
marriage aspiration on anomie. Marriage squeeze plays a
fully mediating role in the relationship between marriage
aspiration and anomie, and about 32% of the effect of
Table 5. Regression of Anomie on Marriage Aspiration and Perceived Marriage Squeeze.
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Marriage aspiration
Hope to get married urgently 1.94* 1.96* 0.25*** 1.33
0.87 (0.91) (0.07) (0.91)
Perceived marriage squeeze
Perceive marital difficulty 3.04*** 2.74*** 2.55***
0.63 (0.69) (0.70)
Individual factors
Age
28–39 0.42 0.93 0.24*** 0.31
(0.69) (0.69) (0.05) (0.70)
Above 40 6.14** 7.22** 0.46** 6.05**
(2.22) (2.23) (0.16) (2.22)
Health
Fair/poor 2.48** 2.63** 0.11+2.34**
(0.87) (0.88) (0.06) (0.87)
Social-economic status
Income (log of income) 0.03 0.002 −0.001 0.006
(0.73) (0.74) (0.05) (0.731)
Occupation
Managerial and technical staff 0.02 −0.47 −0.15+−0.08
(1.15) (1.17) (0.08) (1.15)
Propertied class 0.57 0.78 0.04 0.68
(1.21) (1.23) (0.09) (1.21)
Education
Secondary or high school 2.79 2.91+0.05 2.79+
(1.63) (1.65) (0.12) (1.63)
College 2.90 3.52+0.21+2.97+
(1.78) (1.80) (0.13) (1.78)
Migration experience
Formal social participation (No = 1) 0.67 0.85 0.03 0.78
(0.81) (0.82) (0.06) (0.81)
Informal social participation (No = 1) 1.46* 1.50* −0.01 1.52*
(0.61) (0.62) (0.05) (0.61)
Migration time (short = 1) 1.66* 1.40+−0.12* 1.70*
(0.72) (0.72) (0.05) (0.72)
Employment status
Underemployment 4.08 4.96* 0.25 4.34+
(2.22) (2.25) (0.16) (2.22)
Relative deprivation −0.32 −0.41+−0.05** −0.28
(0.21) (0.22) (0.016) (0.22)
Cons 19.23*** 18.54*** 17.06** 18.43** 0.733+16.56**
(0.32) (0.35) (5.83) (5.91) (0.43) (5.84)
N408 407 395 395 395 395
Pseudo R-sq 0.0095 0.053 0.118 0.092 0.20 0.121
Note. p < .1, *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001.
Li et al. 11
marriage aspiration on anomie is mediated by the mar-
riage squeeze. These results support Hypothesis 2.
From Model 6, we see that some control variables
have significant effects on anomie. Education is sig-
nificantly and negatively related to anomie. Compared
to elementary school, both secondary and high school
and college are significantly associated with anomie
(r = 2.79; r = 2.97; p < .1). Unmarried males with a
higher level of education also have greater anomie.
This finding differs from previous results, and we will
discuss this difference next. Migration experiences
are significantly associated with anomie; in Table 5,
there is a significant association between migration
time and anomie. Compared to migration time of more
than 2 years, migration time of less than 2 years sig-
nificantly increases the level of anomie among unmar-
ried males (r = 1.7; p < .05). Compared to those with
full employment, those with underemployment have a
higher risk of increase in anomie (r = 4.34; p < .1).
Lack of informal social participation also significantly
increases the level of anomie among unmarried male
migrant workers (r = 1.52; p < .05). Model 6 also
showed significant associations between age and ano-
mie, and health and anomie. Compared to age less
than 28, age above 40 significantly increases the level
of anomie (r = 6.05; p < .01). Compared to the
healthiest, poor health increases the level of anomie (r
= 2.34; p < .01).
Conclusion and Discussion
This article has employed psychological elements to
explore the mechanism of anomie among unmarried rural
male migrant workers. The results identified that per-
ceived marriage squeeze exerts direct effects on anomie,
and that marriage aspiration has indirect effects on ano-
mie. The perceived marriage squeeze mediates the rela-
tionship between marriage aspiration and anomie. The
findings also reveal that education and difficulty in
migration and social integration also affect anomie.
The perceived marriage squeeze has a significant
direct negative influence on anomie. A number of qual-
itative studies have reported that older unmarried
males report high rates of psychological distress in the
context of gender imbalance (Li et al., 2009; Wei et al.,
2008). The findings indicate that the association
between perceived marriage squeeze and anomie is
still significant when control variables are included (p
< .001), which is consistent with the findings of previ-
ous research. Perceived marriage squeeze is a kind of
“aversive situation” (Agnew, 1985), which is likely to
frustrate unmarried rural male migrant workers and
lead to their anomie because they can’t escape this
aversive situation.
Unmarried males’ experience of the marriage squeeze
can also lead to them being labeled as without “ben shi”
(ability; Lin, 2016), and being treated as not fully adult
(Ehrenreich, 1983). This then undermines their sense of
masculinity (Choi, 2018). Both of these might produce an
identity crisis and lead to individual anomie.
Marriage aspiration has an indirect negative influence
on anomie among rural male migrant workers, and might
affect anomie through the perceived marriage squeeze.
Marriage aspiration is significantly related to perceived
marriage squeeze, which is consistent with the idea of
“blockage of goal-seeking behavior” (Agnew, 1985). In
the traditional Confucian culture, getting married is
regarded as a cultural norm (Lin, 2016), and the idea that
everybody should get married is widely prevalent (Yang
et al., 2012). The traditional marriage culture would not
only push single males to try to get married, but also
shape their traditional marriage values through competi-
tion of marriage opportunities. Although the unmarried
male is aiming toward the marriage goal, his path is
blocked because of the gender imbalance, which might
produce a strong sense of the marriage squeeze. In turn,
the sense of marriage squeeze as an aversive environment
might lead to frustration and anomie.
Education can increase the level of anomie among
unmarried rural migrant workers, which is contrary to
findings of previous research in China (Yang et al., 2017).
A possible reason for this difference is that those with
higher education are more likely to be frustrated, due to
the conflict between higher education and low socioeco-
nomic status. Absence of informal social participation
and problems during early migration stages increase the
level of anomie. Anomie is highly sensitive to social iso-
lation, while underemployment also increases the level of
anomie. Both of these findings show that social integra-
tion in the destination city is also an important determi-
nant of anomie.
In discussing our findings, we noted that Lee’s (1974)
work opened anomie theory to a wider range of vari-
ables, which extend traditional explanations that con-
centrate on socioeconomic status (Ryan, 1981). Lee’s
findings on the negative association between marital
satisfaction and anomie were drawn from a sample of
young married couples. The increasing availability and
Table 6. Sobel–Goodman Mediation Tests.
Coef Std Err
Sobel 0.627** 0.240
Goodman-1 0.627** 0.244
Goodman-2 0.627** 0.235
Indirect effect 0.627** 0.240
Direct effect 1.328 0.910
12 American Journal of Men’s Health
acceptance of divorce may reduce the negative influ-
ence of marital failure on anomie (Ryan, 1981).
However, compared to marriage happiness, marriage
squeeze and its consequences, such as failing to get
married, are more likely to lead to malintegration and
anomie. Marrying is a cultural goal to which many peo-
ple strive in any cultural context, but especially in a
patriarchal society. Therefore, the experience of mar-
riage squeeze leads to frustration and stress, and all of
the above experiences are likely to lead to anomie. The
findings in this study have evidenced the reverse rela-
tionship between marriage squeeze and anomie, which
implies that using marriage aspiration and marriage
squeeze to explain psychological anomie opens anomie
theory to a wider range of variables. In addition, in the
patriarchal context, unmarried male rural migrant work-
ers are facing marriage and socioeconomic squeezes due
to gender imbalance and population migration, which
are likely to increase their level of anomie. Thus, return-
ing to anomie theory helps to understand how China’s
social and demographic transition is shaping peoples’
opportunities and their health.
The findings have some implications. Within the
Chinese culture of universal marriage, most unmarried
adults are expected to marry during their marriageable
ages. However, because of bride shortage in the mar-
riage market, huge numbers of unmarried males will
not marry at these ages. Due to the household registra-
tion system and patriarchal culture, many unmarried
male migrants not only fail to achieve their role as
breadwinners, but also have to go back to their poor
birthplace. Since females often migrate to marry “up,”
the result is a large number of surplus males of low
socioeconomic status living in poor areas who are
likely be squeezed for the long-term in the marriage
market. Further, bride shortage in the marriage market
triggers competition between unmarried males, who
might then have increased marriage aspiration.
However, for many of them, gender imbalance in the
marriage market blocks the path to marriage, which
leads to a serious disjunction between marriage aspira-
tion and the perceived marriage squeeze, resulting in
frustration and anomie. The perceived marriage squeeze
is a difficult experience, and the bride deficit may pre-
vent the marriage-squeezed unmarried males from
avoiding this painful situation, which might lead to
frustration and anomie. Therefore, as marriage squeeze
it is reasonable to predict that anomie will become an
increasingly serious problem for unmarried males,
especially those who live in poor rural areas.
The marriage squeeze might undermine unmarried
males’ masculinity, with negative effects on their self-
identity resulting in social isolation. Within the patriar-
chal culture, being and becoming a responsible man
and undertaking concomitant obligations are regarded
as components of masculinity (Lin, 2016). Because of
the household registration system, migrant workers
have no access to the welfare sponsored by local gov-
ernment (Pun, 2004), and must take insecure, poorly
paid, and low-welfare jobs (Li et al., 2015), which
means that they might fail to achieve their desired role
as breadwinners, undermining their sense of manhood
(Choi, 2018). At the same time, the marriage squeeze
also deprives these unmarried males marriage opportu-
nities due to gender imbalance. If unmarried men fail to
achieve these main roles, it might result in them being
treated as not fully adult or masculine (Ehrenreich,
1983; Lin, 2016). These stigmas can produce social iso-
lation and self-isolation, with loss of meaning in their
lives and a sense of powerlessness. The resulting social
stress can then undermine their health.
Gender imbalance is a problem not only in China,
South Korea, and India, but also in some ethnic groups
in developed countries such as the United States. For
example, Angrist (2002) found that there has been, for
a long time, gender imbalance in the local marriage
market in American history. Asian American men and
black women are still disadvantaged in the marriage
market, and may experience marriage squeeze,
because of ethnic intermarriage (Crowder & Tolnay,
2000; Kao, Balistreri, & Joyner, 2018). In other words,
anomie due to gender imbalance also might be a global
problem. In addition, health is determined by an indi-
vidual’s organic, psychological, and social resources
(Freidl, 1997). Anomie is the kind of social-psycho-
logical syndrome from which individuals can develop
interpersonal alienation, malintegration, and lack of
meaning in their lives (Srole, 1956). This may not
only be used as an indicator of mental illness, but also
be treated as a psychological influence on physical
health (Freidl, 1997). Thus, we argue that there should
be more attention paid to the relationship between
anomie and physical health in the context of gender
imbalance and population migration.
Limitations
This study has several limitations. The data were col-
lected in a single city, which may not necessarily be rep-
resentative of other areas. Also, the data came from a
survey of rural–urban migrant workers, which may not
necessarily be representative of other Chinese sub-
groups. Further, although there is a reason to believe that
marriage squeeze and marriage aspiration are the deter-
minants of anomie, using cross-sectional data precludes
any inference of a causal relationship. In addition, the
nonrandomness of the data due to the lack of a sample
frame might bias the results. Also, this study only
Li et al. 13
collected micro-data, and measured perceived marriage
squeeze at the individual level, which is related to but
different from the population-level marriage squeeze.
Future research expanding on these issues will improve
understanding of the relationship between gender imbal-
ance and anomie in China.
Appendix A
Table A1. Descriptive Statistics for Independent Variables by Working Data and Raw Data.
Working data 100% Raw data 100%
Marriage aspiration, % Hope to get married urgently 11.92 Marriage aspiration,
%
Hope to get married urgently 11.92
Other 88.08 Other 88.08
Perceived Marriage
squeeze, %
Perceive marital difficulty 31.90 Perceived marriage
squeeze, %
Perceive marital difficulty 32.12
Don’t perceive marital
difficulty
68.10 Don’t perceive marital
difficulty
67.88
Age, % Below 27 60.25 Age, % Below 27 60.61
28–39 37.72 28–39 36.90
Above 40 2.03 Above 40 2.49
Appendix B
Table B1. Regression of Anomie on Marriage Aspiration and Perceived Marriage Squeeze (N = 520).
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Marriage aspiration
Hope to get married urgently 1.97** 1.93** 0.24*** 1.33+
(0.73) (0.74) (0.06) (0.74)
Perceived marriage squeeze
Perceive marital difficulty 2.96*** 2.71*** 2.55***
(0.50) (0.54) (0.54)
Individual factors
Age
28–39 0.42 1.00+0.27*** 0.31
(0.54) (0.53) (0.04) (0.54)
Above 40 6.14*** 7.42*** 0.54*** 6.05***
(1.81) (1.83) (0.15) (1.81)
Health
Fair/poor 2.41*** 2.62*** 0.11* 2.34***
(0.66) (0.68) (0.06) (0.66)
Social-economic status
Income (log of income) 0.02 0.004 −0.001 0.006
(0.58) (0.59) (0.05) (0.57)
Occupation
Managerial and technical staff −0.01 −0.43 −0.14+−0.08
(0.91) (0.92) (0.08) (0.91)
Propertied class 0.63 0.61 −0.03 0.68
(0.95) (0.97) (0.08) (0.95)
Education
Secondary or high school 2.79* 3.04* 0.10 2.79*
(1.20) (1.32) (0.11) (1.29)
College 2.91* 3.61* 0.25* 2.97*
(1.43) (1.46) (0.12) (1.43)
Migration experience
Formal social participation (No = 1) 0.67 0.86 0.03 0.78
(0.63) (0.64) (0.05) (0.63)
(continued)
14 American Journal of Men’s Health
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Informal social participation (No = 1) 1.50** 1.50** −0.01 1.52**
(0.47) (0.48) (0.04) (0.47)
Migration time (Short = 1) 1.662** 1.437* −0.103* 1.699**
(0.56) (0.57) (0.05) (0.56)
Employment status
Underemployment 4.13* 4.79* 0.18 4.34*
(1.82) (1.86) (0.15) (1.82)
Relative deprivation −0.32+−0.41* −0.05*** −0.28+
(0.17) (0.17) (0.01) (0.17)
Cons 19.22*** 18.54*** 17.01*** 18.27*** 0.67+16.56***
(0.25) (0.28) (4.61) (4.69) (0.38) (4.61)
N520 520 503 503 503 503
Adj R-sq 0.012 0.062 0.154 0.121 0.194 0.158
Table B1. (continued)
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article.
Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial sup-
port for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this arti-
cle: The author(s) received a grant from the China Postdoctoral
Science Foundation (grant number 2017M610619).
Notes
1. According to the 2010 Sixth National population census
data, the sex ratio at birth (SRB) in Fujian, Jiangxi, Sichuan,
Hubei, Anhui, Henan, and Hunan are 125.71, 128.27, 118.1,
123.94, 131.07, 127.64, and 125.78, respectively.
2. 2009 Nian NongMin Gong Jian Ce Diao Cha Bao Gao
(in Chinese) http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjfx/fxbg/t20100319
_402628281.htm.
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... Getting married is men's duty (Liu et al., 2014). The gender imbalance leads to many bachelors whose path to marriage is blocked (Li et al., 2019), resulting in disharmony between their ideal goals and their actual lives. It is expected that bachelors are more likely to have dissatisfaction with their lives. ...
... Conformity with the culture of the traditional value of children may motivate bachelors to seek chances to marry. Previous study has revealed that bachelors who have high marriage aspirations may be more sensitive to the marriage squeeze and feel more anxiety and stress than bachelors with low marriage aspirations (Li et al., 2019), which then lead to lower life satisfaction. The relationship between bachelor status and life satisfaction may be moderated by the traditional value of children. ...
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