Educational Assortative Mating and Marital Stability: Adding a Contextual Dimension

Lindsay Theunis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Christine Schnor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Didier Willaert, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Jan Van Bavel, University of Leuven

Existing studies on educational assortative mating and marital stability show that marriages in which the wife is higher educated than the husband (hypogamy) often have high risks of divorce. We argue that this effect might depend on whether these kind of marriages are very rare or more common. To address this gap in the literature, we formulated two objectives. First, we examine spatial variation in the risk of union dissolution by taking into account the educational composition of a couple’s neighbourhood. Second, we try to disentangle the effect of partners’ individual education from the effect of partners’ relative education on the dissolution of marital unions. We use unique Belgian census data of 2001, coupled with the Belgian National Register of 2006. Preliminary results suggest that downward married women have a lower risk of divorce if they live in a municipality where hypogamous marriages are more common.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households