Given the ever-increasing economic and social ties with the Mainland, Hong Kong-Mainland cross-border marriage patterns experienced significant changes after the handover. The proportion of cross-border marriages only accounted for 2% of marriages registered in Hong Kong in the pre-handover period but jumped to 34.7% after the handover. This study examines the impact of stronger economic ties and weakened social and cultural boundaries on the patterns of assortative mating in cross-border marriages. As most of the cross-border workers from Hong Kong are males, they have increasing opportunities for social interaction with Mainland women in communities and social circles in the Mainland. After the handover, the language skills of residents on both sides showed significant improvement and this can enhance the possibility of finding a marriage partner across the border. Empirical results suggest a weaker positive assortative mating in respect of age and educational attainment among Hong Kong husband-Mainland wife couples after the handover. Previous studies suggest that marital partner selection reflects the strength of social boundaries and the strength of these boundaries should be stronger for cross-border marriages. The results of this paper support the view that stronger economic ties and weakened social and cultural boundaries do promote cross-border marriages and negative assortative mating in these marriages.
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I thank Brenda Yeoh and the two anonymous referees for their constructive comment and suggestions that significantly improved the quality of the paper.
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- assortative mating
- native-immigrant marriage