Homogamy among dating cohabiting and married couples

Men traditionally held higher educational degrees than women, but since the mid-1980s, women started to surpass men in schooling levels (Di Prete and Buchmann 2006; Vincent-Lancrin 2008).

The growing proportion of marriages in which wives are more educated than their husbands, so-called hypogamous marriages, can be seen as one consequence of the reversal of the gender gap in education (Esteve et al.

Using Belgian census and register data for 458,499 marriages contracted between 19, we show that hypogamy was not associated with higher divorce rates than homogamy in communities where hypogamy was common.

Against expectations, marriages in which the husband was more educated than the wife tend to exhibit the highest divorce rates.

More detailed analysis of the different types of educational matches revealed that marriages with at least one highly educated partner, male or female, were less divorce prone compared to otherwise similar couple types.

In most Western countries, the past decades have been marked by a substantial increase in educational levels, especially for women.

Recent research suggests that this new context might be beneficial for the stability of hypogamous unions compared to other educational pairings.

Cross-national studies suggest that contextual factors significantly affect marital stability (Cooke 2006; Liefbroer and Dourleijn 2006; Wagner and Weiss 2006).

In the discussion, among other things, we will give recommendations for future research about the two applied measures examining the effect of educational heterogamy.

In the divorce literature, marriages are assumed to be less stable when husband and wife do not share the same educational level for two reasons (Kalmijn et al. First, spouses with different levels of education potentially differ in their socioeconomic background, in their values, opinions and tastes, and in their lifestyles (Kalmijn 1994, 1998; Levinger 1976; Mäenpää and Jalovaara 2015).

We find evidence that hypogamous marriages are associated with a higher risk of divorce compared to equal pairings, but only if hypogamy is relatively uncommon.

In communities with a higher prevalence of hypogamy than average, dissolution risks are similar.

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