Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Gender and the Timing of Marriage: Rural-Urban Differences in Java

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Gender and the Timing of Marriage: Rural-Urban Differences in Java

Article excerpt

I address the need to look at marriage behavior by both males and females in developing societies. Using event history analysis, focus on gender differences in rural, as opposed to urban, Central Java and argue that modern social contexts are not necessarily more egalitarian with regard to the marriage process and gender roles than are traditional social contexts. The findings support the conclusion that, in Java, modern urban settings may be responsible for increased gender role differentiation. Although urbanization has meant better educational access and later, more self-choice marriages for women, it has also meant lower rates of participation in the labor force and the adoption of conjugal norms supportive of women's economic dependence on men. Thus, in rural areas there are the greatest similarity in the determinants of marriage timing for Javanese men and women, particularly with regard to their economic roles: Participation in any type of work delays marriage for both sexes. In contrast, employment facilitates marriage for urban men and indicates their provider role, whereas it has no effect on the timing of marriage for urban women, who are more influenced by the ideologies imparted through schooling.

Key Words: gender roles, Indonesia, marriage, modernization.

Research on marriage timing in developing countries has been motivated largely by a demographic interest in the initiation of reproduction, and thus it has been largely limited to women. Descriptive research on age at marriage for men is rare, and studies that examine its determinants are practically nonexistent (Casterline, Williams, & McDonald, 1986; Xenos & Gutliano, 1992). Entry into the marital state is not only an important life course transition for men, but, as is the case for women's age at marriage, it is a fundamental reflection of family structure, gender relations, and social change (Caldwell, Reddy, & Caldwell, 1983; Cherlin & Chamratrithirong, 1988; Fricke, Syed, & Smith, 1987; McDonald, 1985; Smith, 1980; Thornton, Chang, & Sun, 1984). When, why, and how men begin their married lives is likely to define their sexual activity, fertility behavior, as well as their family obligations, conjugal roles, bases of financial and social support, and future options, although it may do this in a manner different from women (Cherlin & Chamratrithirong, 1988; Rindfuss & Morgan, 1983; Thornton et al., 1984).

In addition, focusing on the differences in marriage processes for men and women can give us insight into gender roles and expectations in the society under consideration. This focus is especially necessary in light of the emphasis placed by most theories of social change on marriage as an important route through which the processes of modernization make gender relations more egalitarian (Caldwell, 1982; Domingo & King, 1992; Goode, 1963; United Nations, 1988). Under the influence of urbanization and Westernization, it is argued, family concerns diminish, and exposure to education and employment increases, resulting in greater independence for the younger generation, especially women. The more substantial gains made by young women are thought to be reflected in more egalitarian and conjugally oriented marriages. Empirical research has rarely tested the validity of these arguments by comparing marriage behavior of males and females in developing countries, however. And the limited research that does exist lends doubt to the universal applicability of these arguments (Malhotra, 1991; Mason, 1986; Safilios-Rothschild, 1988; Williams, 1990).

I address this void by examining the determinants of marriage timing for both men and women in Central Java. Using data from the 1980 Indonesian Asian Marriage Survey, I examine the role of family status, education, and employment in determining when men and women enter their first marriages in two contrasting social contexts: a rural area with a predominantly agrarian economy and traditional cultural values and a middleclass urban setting with a more complex market economy and greater exposure to modern and Western influences. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.