Marrying up by marrying down: Status exchange between social origin and education in the United States

Christine R. Schwartz, Zhen Zeng, Yu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Intermarriage plays a key role in stratification systems. Spousal resemblance reinforces social boundaries within and across generations, and the rules of intermarriage govern the ways that social mobility may occur. We examine intermarriage across social origin and education boundaries in the United States using data from the 1968-2013 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our evidence points to a pattern of status exchange-that is, persons with high education from modest backgrounds tend to marry those with lower education from more privileged backgrounds. Our study contributes to an active methodological debate by pinpointing the conditions under which the results pivot from evidence against exchange to evidence for exchange and advances theory by showing that the rules of exchange are more consistent with the notion of diminishing marginal utility than the more general theory of compensating differentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1027
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Science
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • Exchange marriage
  • Homogamy
  • Intermarriage
  • Social stratification

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