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Can Stud Popul. 2013 Fall;40(3-4):134-148.

The Life Cycle of Bare Branch Families in China---A Simulation Study.

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  • 1Institute for Population and Development Studies School of Public Policy and Administration Xi'an Jiaotong University Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, 710049, China.


China is and will be characterized by a large number of men who are unable to marry: these men are often referred to as "bare branches." In this paper we define the bare branch family and divide its life cycle into three stages: the unmarried co-resident with both parents, co-resident with a surviving parent, and living alone. Using life tables and probability methods, we find that up to age 60, the bare branch male faces cumulative probabilities of 0.8 and 0.6, for his father's and mother's death, respectively. The definition of the age at which bare branch status is initialized influences the length of these stages. As the childbearing age of parents increases, the age of a bare branch at the death of his parents decreases, and the duration of his living alone lengthens. An increase in the mother's childbearing age, holding that of the father constant, shortens the stage of co-residence with both parents, and lengthens the stage of living alone.


China; bare branch; family life cycle; life table; simulation; surviving alone

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