Parents and Unwed Daughters as an Intergenerational Alliance? – Parental Matchmaking and China’s Single Women

Annie Hau Nung CHAN*, Peier CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper examines the motivations and contexts for China’s highly educated, financially independent single urban women to willingly participate in parental matchmaking. Based on the analysis of two rounds of in-depth interviews with 25 never-married women in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, we find that their participation in parental matchmaking is best understood as an intergenerational alliance formed to mitigate perceived insecurities. Neo-familism, state-endorsed stigmatization and discriminatory polices explain why parents and daughters both prioritize socio-economic security in mate selection. However, the benefits of this inter-generational collaboration are doubtful and asymmetrical, more beneficial to parents than daughters. We contribute to the literature by specifying how state-promoted discourses, neo-familism and women’s lived experiences explain their participation in parental matchmaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-54
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number1
Early online date20 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was funding by a General Research Fund from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (Grant code: LU 13602417)

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Chinese single women
  • gender & family
  • intergenerational
  • matchmaking
  • qualitative


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