Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Xu, Xiaohe

Committee Member

Jones, James D.

Committee Member

Cossman, Jeralynn S.

Committee Member

Bartkowski, John P.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


The rising trend in marital instability and divorce is a topic of discussion nearly world-wide. While divorce affects considerably fewer people in non-Western societies, its rising trend and impact are quite alarming. Given the well established findings in the West, it is useful to study divorce and marital instability in non-Western societies so that prior findings from the West can be scrutinized and validated cross-culturally. This study is necessary because the theories developed in the West may not be entirely applicable to non-Western societies and cultural factors may in some cases be more important than socio-economic factors. By using the East Asian Social Survey (EASS), a three-society survey conducted in China, Taiwan, and South Korea in the later part of the 1990s, this study investigates the determinants of marital instability in three East Asian societies. Drawing insights from three theoretical traditions, namely, socio-cultural context, resources, and gender, the central goal of this study is to use comparable survey data and quantitative analyses (i.e., ordered logistics regression) to explore the effects of resources, gender (marital) roles, and gender beliefs on marital instability in the selected three societies. Results from multivariate statistical analyses suggest that the effects of resources, gender roles, and gender beliefs on marital instability vary not only by societies under study but also by gender. While the findings lent limited support to the resources-based theory, gender beliefs and to a lesser extent, gender roles, emerged as the most consistent predictors of marital instability in all three societies. Data limitations and directions for future research are discussed.



marital instability||divorce