Is hypergamy fading?

Here is a new paper from Christine R. Schwartz and Hongyun Han, and here is the key part of the abstract:

…marriages in which wives have the educational advantage were once more likely to dissolve, but this association has disappeared in more recent marriage cohorts. Another key finding is that the relative stability of marriages between educational equals has increased. These results are consistent with a shift away from rigid gender specialization toward more flexible, egalitarian partnerships, and they provide an important counterpoint to claims that progress toward gender equality in heterosexual relationships has stalled.

There are ungated versions here, and for the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.


Hypergamy does not seem to be fading when you look at earnings instead of education. Husbands earn more than wifes, on the average, regardless of which spouse is more highly educated. In the 2000s, wives bring in 41.9 percent of total family earnings when they are more educated than their husbands, 37.3 percent when the spouses have the same amount of education, and 32.6 percent when the husband is more educated (Table 2 in paper).

Good point. My wife is a teacher with a master's degree in education. I'm an IT worker with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. I make most of the money.

Also, someone with a masters in education does not have more education than someone with a bachelors in math.

J1 -- I would argue that someone with an undergraduate degree in a liberal arts/humanities subject has more education than someone with a graduate degree in math.

Please show your work.

More useless education. There argument solved.

I have no problem with this argument. Except the math might be a more valuable signal in the labor market.

You, and even andrew' a wrong.

Well, if we're not counting quality and usefulness, I'd say that someone who watches television 8 hours a day is highly educated as well. After all, they can probably recite the words to the theme songs of decades old television programs, and they know far more about the Kardashians than I ever will.

There's a lot of university 'education' these days that falls in the same category. Start with any 'studies' department. Or, if the teachers my kid has are any guide, the faculty of education.

Change "I make most of the money." to "I earn most of the money."

How much is this changes in education rather than gender roles within marriage? Far more people, and especially, far more women go to college. The proportion of the population over 25 with a bachelor's degree, for example, has about doubled since 1980. That is bound to make these degrees a far less significant determinant for anything, and the populations of people who obtain degrees will be significantly different.

Correct. MA, Gender Studies < HVAC certification.

As education becomes more democratic, its status signaling decreases.

"...progress toward gender equality in heterosexual relationships..."

Gender is binary. Men will need to dominate the relationship in some way, if not necessarily in earnings or formal education, because of the mechanics of attraction. Women don't marry down, and men don't fall in love with a woman's status.

Women will marry down. If they really want kids, for instance, or if he is really handy with his gentleman's sausage.

I.e., dominant in some way. Women have married down, like Liz Taylor and her contractor, but he will be dominant in the bedroom, around the house, in social settings, somewhere, because that's what women fall for, like men fall for looks.

IOW, the film Notting Hill is a bit of a nerd fantasy, though the ending scene is very "old-fashioned."

Lower class women have a greater appreciation for masculinity than their more educated counterparts. A well-educated but alpha kind-of guy will maybe do OK with a babe with an MA but will do even better with a dish from the wrong side of the tracks. This is a good thing. For men and women both.

Why is it preferable for masculinity to be expelled to the 'wrong side of the tracks'?

"Gender is binary. Men will need to dominate the relationship in some way, if not necessarily in earnings or formal education, because of the mechanics of attraction"

And that's why radical feminists think that all women should live in lesbian communes and reproduce by cloning.

It's why lesbians should live in communes. And somebody's still going to end up dominant, which is why probably why there aren't a lot of lesbian communes.

Its the roles that are binary, not the genders; go to Scandinavia and see very masculine women dominate feminine men.

Scandinavians are purporting to reverse gender roles. Consequently, Scandinavians are going extinct.

Do they evaluation the education? Otherwise this is like saying wives have more feet because they have more shoes.

Isn't going to college in itself a form or part of hypergamy? What is the word? Endogenous? Remember the MRS degree jokes? What are the rates of age at first marriage for females like?

Almost unbelievably at 1980 it was unchanged from 1890 at 22.0 but by 2010 it had increased by almost exactly 4 years.

I look forward to seeing what internet matching does.

No investigator will know whether a couple are equally educated. All she'll know is some apparent equality of credentials.

oops, 8 beat me to it.

I am sure they (properly and accurately) corrected for major choice differences and degree inflation as well as the disparate impact on gender by the great reset and that raw ed attainment is a stable proxy for status.

Aye, that'll be right.

What a surprise, a group of overwhelmingly male MR commentators with STEM degrees have decided that people with degrees in the (overwhelmingly male) STEM fields are the only "real" degrees. How dare the researchers not share my prejudices!

And I'm not particularly happy that you guys are making me sound like some bra burning women's libber here. But I take very personally the insinuation (not unique to this thread) that my wife's degree isn't as "real" as mine because she's chosen to use it to do something other than maximize her income.

But I take very personally the insinuation (not unique to this thread) that my wife’s degree isn’t as “real” as mine because she’s chosen to use it to do something other than maximize her income.

So? That does not disprove or prove anything.

OK? But neither does the ipse dixit that "well we can comfortably ignore everything this says because everyone knows that comp Sci degrees are the only real degrees."

The context is that education attainment (edutainment for short) is exactly equal to relative status.

That is what is not real.

What's your wife's degree?

It's both "real," in the judgment of the STEM-lovers around here, and "better than mine," in the judgment of the Princeton Review. But even if it was a women's literature degree from Southeastern Northeastern State, that doesn't mean I'd consider her inferior to me somehow.

If she has a women's lit degree from Student Loan U. and her husband has an HVAC certification, then at least in the realm of marketable skills that pay for the family's existence, he's obviously superior. Again, that's the mechanics of attraction. No woman falls for a man's inferior role, just like no man falls for a woman's superior role.

"And I’m not particularly happy that you guys are making me sound like some bra burning women’s libber here"

I take personally the insinuation that only women get useless degrees.

That's not exactly what it is, Mr. Urso.

But OTOH, the engineering is real.

As a social science major with a teaching credential, I say the STEM guys are absolutely correct. I chose my path because it allowed me to maximize my enjoyment of everything else, and because I didn't want to work hard at a STEM degree. I valued playing collegiate sports, chasing girls, and getting wasted more than working hard, and my Organic Chemistry class taught me that I needed a change.
BTW education degrees are the worst, and don't make one a better teacher.

Requisite specificity: education degrees make one a worse teacher. (Or as Herr Leibniz might've said, "An education degree is the worst of all possible degrees", though I'm certain chancellors and deans have invented equally worthless degrees over the past three centuries.)

Please note also, I'm not the one judging peoples' value based on status.

Never reason from a price change.

This is why I come here. Thanks!

As has been noted, not all degrees are created equal. As a much larger share of the population gets bachelor's and masters degrees, many of the women who would have been counted as "no college" in years past are listed as college grads and are "equal" to their hubbies. But of course if hubby is a Berkeley grad engineer with big pay and wife is a Nowhere State Women's Studies major they are equal only in the sense that Cal and Nowhere State are both universities.

Yeah, the student body at Bezerkley knows that water is H20, at Nowhere State they think it's HO.

Why bring this up when we have little idea of the proportion of easy degrees held by men vs women?

Because people use raw degree as a proxy for the desired X variable. In this case it is status. In the case of federal worker pay it is human capital.

Google "college majors by gender."

This study suggests that the concept of "equality" itself has begun to stall: the term's glib and utopian invocations over the past two hundred years and more have come to yield in present circumstances nothing or next to nothing in terms of any measurable or meaningful outcomes in education, economics, jurisprudence, or social status. When not merely pernicious, the concept is increasingly vacuous and no longer commands credibility. (I humbly suggest replacing "equality" with "complementarity".)

Maybe chauvinistic attitudes like the above discourage women from going into STEM fields in the first place?

I am a Political Science major and I date a female Aerospace Engineer, but hey, who am I to judge your androphilous partys?

I would say no, but you would probably assume it is chauvinism.

Chauvinism is a strange word, it seems, because we are really talking about intrasex competitions (men are trying to be higher status than other men, which is why saying college is a bundled good that includes mating explains why it isn't necessarily chauvinist.

Yeah, I suppose that's part of it.

This suggests to me that the phenomenon of assortative mating is increasing. And if that's true, then I think that this has a statistical effect on household income inequality. If spouses are now more likely to be similar in earnings level, then the incidence of "double-high" and "double-low" income households will increase, relative to the incidence of "high-low" and "low-high" families, and thus overall household income inequality is increased - even without any one person's actual income changing.

Won't buy the article, but from the abstract I note two things:

1) I wonder how many children these partnerships are creating. My guess is 0-2, average significantly less. So while the marriages may be stable, the society it creates may not be.
2) The quote 'progress toward gender equality.' This quote by itself makes this a political paper masquerading as a scientific paper. Such easy use of this term tells us all a lot about Sociology. Of course, that does not mean that the math is incorrect.

OK, read the article (missed the 'ungated' link) and, as I suspected, no discussion whatsoever about children in these marriages other than why they don't control for it.

>a shift away from rigid gender specialization

Right. We've all been living in a time of rigid gender specialization.

Comments for this post are closed