Long Term Trends of Educational Assortative Mating and Age Difference between Partners in Four Different Contexts

Alessandra Trimarchi, University of Vienna
Ignacio Pardo, Universidad de la Republica
Laurent Toulemon, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Women’s participation in tertiary education has been increasing since the second half of the 20th century and, in many countries, since the 1990s, tertiary-educated women in their reproductive ages outnumber tertiary-educated men. This structural change had consequences for union formation behavior. We examine the interaction between changes in educational assortative mating and partners’ age difference over time. We used IPUMS harmonized census microdata of four countries (Brazil, France, Panama, and the United States), which have available data since the 1960s. We found an increasing trend in age homogamy, particularly among tertiary educated couples. Educational hypergamy and age hypergamy have become less compatible over time. Educationally hypergamous unions have become more heterogeneous in terms of the age-difference between partners. These findings hold independently from the context. We make a twofold contribution. First, we consider trends in age and educational assortative mating over five decades in four countries within Europe and the Americas, to highlight similarities and differences across different contexts. Second, we describe trends of the age difference across educationally heterogamous and homogamous couples. In the latter case we can reveal patterns related to the absolute level of education, which has been rarely done in the past.

Keywords: Cross-country comparative analyses, Family demography, Gender, Harmonized data sets

See paper.

  Presented in Session 60. Patterns of Union Formation Around the World