Mate Selection in America: Gender Asymmetry in Educational and Income Assortative Marriage between 1980 and the Present

Yue Qian, Ohio State University

The reversal of gender gaps in education has reshaped U.S. marriage markets. This paper examines gender asymmetry in educational and income assortative mating among newlyweds between 1980 and the present. Log-linear models reveal that 1) although the percentage of newlyweds where wives are more-educated than husbands (educational hypogamy) doubled over the period, the increase was largely due to shifts in marginal distributions of spouses’ education; 2) net of gender differences in income distributions, there is a tendency for women to marry a husband with higher income than themselves; and 3) educational hypogamy remains traditional because it still primarily occurs when more-educated wives marry up in income, a tendency that is higher than what we would expect given the composition of marriage markets. Thus, women marrying down in education tend to choose spouses more heavily on the basis of “money,” suggesting the persistence of the traditional male-breadwinner norm in American marriages.

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Presented in Session 149: Family and the Economy