Marriage of Equals and Inequality

Rania Gihleb, Boston University

In this paper, I investigate the impact of educational assortative marriage on the growth in family income inequality in the United States between the birth cohort of 1950 and 1970 using data from the March CPS. I compare patterns of educational assortative mating and show that educational homogamy has not risen over the last three decades. I also show that the main cause for the rising household inequality over the period considered is the widening gaps between households of each particular type. These are overwhelmingly due to the well documented fact of increasing returns to education, i.e., ``price'' effects rather than composition effects. In addition, the structural parameters of a stylized model of marriage along educational lines are estimated. Couterfactual analysis confirms that any shift in the preference for similar educated others across the two cohorts played little role in explaining the current aggregate pattern of marriage selection.

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Presented in Poster Session 5