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The Effects of Assortative Mating on Income Inequality: A Decompositional Analysis


  • Shane Mathew Worner


Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Survey of Income and Household Costs, this paper explores the effect of changing assortative mating patterns on income inequality. Evidence from theoretical and mathematically calibrated models suggest that assortative mating has distributional implications for measurable traits, which include income. Using a semi-parametric conditional weighted kernel density estimation framework we analyse the effect of assortative mating on the distribution of income in Australia. In controlling for labour force participation, family characteristics, education and other demographic variables, we find some evidence to suggest that assortative mating has had an influence on the increase in income inequality in the 17 years to 2003. The results are robust to several changes in specification.

Suggested Citation

  • Shane Mathew Worner, 2006. "The Effects of Assortative Mating on Income Inequality: A Decompositional Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 538, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:538

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McLean, Ian W. & Pincus, Jonathan J., 1983. "Did Australian Living Standards Stagnate between 1890 and 1940?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(01), pages 193-202, March.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. Talent: Willetts versus Smith
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2007-05-20 17:23:35
    2. Divorce laws and inequality
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2006-12-22 13:40:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Markus M. Grabka & Ursina Kuhn, 2012. "The Evolution of Income Inequality in Germany and Switzerland since the Turn of the Millennium," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 464, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Clark, William A.V. & van Ham, Maarten & Coulter, Rory, 2011. "Socio-Spatial Mobility in British Society," IZA Discussion Papers 5861, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Wen Hao Chen & Michael Förster & Ana Llena-Nozal, 2013. "Determinants of Household Earnings Inequality: The Role of Labour Market Trends and Changing Household Structure," LIS Working papers 591, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

    More about this item


    inequality; assortative mating/matching; sorting;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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