Parental Education and College Students’ Attitudes toward Love:

Survey Evidence from China



Objective: This study examines the correlation between parental education and college attendees’ attitudes toward love (ATL), as well as its formative mechanism.

Background: Family formation in modern societies mostly involves the couple’s matching attitudes toward love (ATL), but studies of the determinants of those attitudes have not much advanced over several decades.

Method: Panel data from the random probability sample of the Beijing College Students Panel Survey (the sample size refers to 2,473 baseline survey respondents who enrolled in 2009 and were followed for four years. The population is the college attendees in Beijing, China) are used to analyze a gradational measure of ATL. The random-effects linear regression model and the mediation analyses are adopted.

Results: Students with better-educated parents are more likely to lean toward realistic rather than romantic ATL. The effect does not differ between male and female students, and is stable across college years. Mediation analyses further highlight that parental education propels college students to be more realistic mainly through promoting family income and fostering children’s endowment of objectified cultural capital.

Conclusion: Both economic and cultural factors bridge parental education and adult children’ ATL.

Implications: ATL serves as a mechanism for maintaining assortative mating by family socio-economic status, which further supports intergenerational transmission of economic advantages.

Key Words: Attitudes toward Love (ATL); China; College Students; Parental Education