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Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality




An increase in positive assortative mating is documented for the period 1960 to 2005, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Thus, people are more likely today than in the past to marry someone from the same educational class. How does this shift in marital sorting affect household income inequality? The analysis finds that the rise in assortative mating, per se, has had a very modest impact on household income inequality. By contrast, another change in marriage patterns, the dramatic uptick in the number of single households, appears to have a stronger connection with widening income inequality. This is a revised version of the 2014 AER P&P paper based on the 2015 corrigendum.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2015. "Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 23, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  • Handle: RePEc:eag:rereps:23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2016. "Technology and the Changing Family: A Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment, and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41, January.
    2. Lam, David, 1993. "Demographic variables and income inequality," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1015-1059 Elsevier.
    3. Christine Schwartz & Robert Mare, 2005. "Trends in educational assortative marriage from 1940 to 2003," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(4), pages 621-646, November.
    4. Maria Cancian & Deborah Reed, 1998. "Assessing The Effects Of Wives' Earnings On Family Income Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 73-79, February.
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    More about this item


    Assortative mating; contingency table; Gini coefficient; income inequality; Lorenz curve; married female labor-force participation;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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