Friday, December 14, 2007

Marriage Choice is Narrower for the Most Educated

Schooling plays a bigger and bigger role in mate selection. As the most educated people spend longer years in school, and with a more homogeneous pool of people, the most educated couples are likely to get more similar to one another in education, age, and status level.

Something I had not thought about until reading Who Marries Whom, which I will be blogging on for the next few posts, is that the least educated couples will be less similar to one another in education, background, age, and status level, than the most educated couples will. There is more variety at the bottom than at the top of the educational ladder, and more time and social locations to choose in. The biological clock is not ticking so loudly for high school women as it is for professional school women, so they are less likely to marry the person they were dating when they finished school.

Educational homogamy is not uniform throughout the social ladder.

2 comments:

traci said...

Hmmm...I'm not convinced that, despite the larger pool, lesser educated individuals are less similar than more highly educated. I should read the book. My thinking though, is that lesser educated folks are less mobile, thereby increasing exposure only to the local cultural, mores, exposures to others, etc than those who are more educated. I would further add, that at least for first marriages, age and social class also would be more similar. Education can be delayed through jobs, lengthy dissertations, etc. thus expanding the age gap of the better educated. In other words, the opportunity to become more highly educated isn't a precise schedule (at least in my mind and experience). In contrast, it seems that the less educated would be more likely to choose a similar, straight-forward path - job, marriage (potentially), family. Perhaps, much of the argument/position hinges on only certain variables ?

I'm not suggesting that the notion is incorrect, only that I'm a bit dubious. I'd love to learn of your thoughts.

Best regards,
Traci

Gruntled said...

The variable that later studies add, I now see, is how soon after graduation you marry. People who marry right after graduation are more similar than those who wait, because the former are very likely to be marrying their school sweethearts. This is true in high, college, or higher.