Marriage and the family in urban North Vietnam, 1965-1993

Authors: Bélanger, Danièle; Hong, Khuat Thu
Abstract: In-depth interviews were conducted among 112 persons who were married during 1965-85 (53 persons) and during 1987-92 (57 persons) in three districts of Hanoi, Vietnam. Data pertain to 1994. Persons were grouped as college educated or not. The aim of this paper is to examine mate selection among urban couples and the nature of traditional cultural influences under socialism. The period 1965-85 is characterized as involving both the family and the state in marriage and mate selection. Public sector workers received housing units, coupons for food, and access to health care and other public services. During 1965-85 there was a shift from an emphasis on economic status to political status (whether one had the preferred lineage and access to public employment). 50% of participants had parents who initiated the process of mate selection. Among the other 50%, children chose their own mates. Although there was a loosening of the traditional parental choice model, there was never a transition to sole decision making by the child. In order for the marriage to take place, the work place administration had to approve of the marriage. Parents gave approval to the child's choice. Parents in the north generally selected their children's mates on the basis of their own desires and the political community. The most important criterion was that the mate should work for the government. Families did not mix residence backgrounds or educational levels in securing compatibility between mates. Four to five years age difference was preferred. No age difference was perceived as a threat to harmony and family stability. The cohorts born during the 1940s and 1950s showed wider differences in timing and mate selection. Those born after the war reached the marriage market under more favorable conditions. Marriages during 1987-92 involved mate selection by the child and parental approval, which was required but was usually only a confirmation of the child's choice. The family background of the future spouse lost importance. Opportunities for meeting spouses increased during this period. Age was no longer a compulsory criterion. The authors' interpretation is that tradition survived the political changes, This pattern was unlike Chinese families. Social differences created by reforms may have loosened the norms on timing of marriage for some population groups.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 1 May 1996
Open Access Date: 17 October 2016
Document version: VoR
This document was published in: Journal of population, Vol. 2 (1), 83-112 (1996)
Lembaga Demografi, Fakultas Ekonomi, Universitas Indonesia.
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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