Relationship between marriage and social status

relationship between marriage and social status

The study of relationships between woman's social status and the forms of marriage brings into sharp contrast the position of sociologists commenting on the. In fiction, cross-class relationships either end in marriage and happily-ever-after, or else in dissolution and even death. But what happens in. Empirical research consistently finds a positive relationship between socioeconomic status and marriage for men at the individual level, both historically and.

relationship between marriage and social status

We examine intermarriage across social origin and education boundaries in the United States using data from the — 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.

relationship between marriage and social status

Although the romantic love ideal is widespread in the United States Buss et al. There are few studies of this topic, but those that do exist suggest a persistent tendency to match on social origin spanning from at least the s through the s Blau and Duncan ; Burgess and Wallin ; Centers ; Kalmijn ; Charles, Hurst, and Killewald Furthermore, matching on social origin does not appear to be explained by the tendency for individuals with similar educational attainments to marry one another Blau and Duncan ; Kalmijn ; Charles et al.

relationship between marriage and social status

In this article, we extend the literature on marital sorting by social background by examining the conditions under which departures from matching on social origin and education occur. Previous studies have focused on whether there is sorting on social origin over and above sorting on education but have not examined the relationship between the two forms of matching. We test the long-standing hypothesis that departures from spousal resemblance are characterized by status exchange—the notion that individuals compensate for the lack of one trait by offering other desirable traits to potential mates e.

In this context, status exchange marriages are those in which people with high social origins but low educational attainment marry those with low social origins but high educational attainment—in other words, people marry up in education by marrying down in social origin and vice versa. As Davis argues, intermarriage plays an important role in stratification systems. Whereas endogamy serves to reinforce social boundaries within and across generations, the rules of intermarriage govern the ways in which social mobility may occur.

From the perspective of social stratification and mobility, the exchange of social origin and education is particularly interesting because these two traits represent two dimensions of class standing—ascribed and achieved status. Numerous studies have documented that achieved traits, education in particular, are increasingly important markers of social status as well as criteria of mate selection, whereas the roles of ascribed traits such as race, ethnicity, and religious background have weakened e.

Research on status-exchange marriage in the United States has often examined the exchange of socioeconomic status SES for racial status e.

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Another way of extending the literature is to examine how generalizable exchange is to other characteristics for example, social background and educational attainment. Thus, to our knowledge, this is the first empirical test of the exchange hypothesis with respect to social origin and education in the United States or elsewhere.

In light of the debate on the appropriateness of log-linear analyses in the literature on status exchange see Rosenfeld ; Gullickson and Fu ; Kalmijnwe also review and synthesize the methods that have been used to evaluate the exchange hypothesis.

Our methodological discussion focuses on methods of separating exchange from other social forces that influence mate selection such as a tendency for men or women to choose partners similar to themselves and is part of continuing efforts to clarify the important methodological and substantive implications of this debate Gullickson and Torche Previous research has debated the value of various log-linear models to identify exchange but has not systematically identified why different specifications yield different results.

We demonstrate that models that control for the correlation between education and social origin within individuals consistently yield positive evidence on exchange; on the other hand, simple tests that do not control for this correlation consistently reject the exchange hypothesis. Finally, we advance exchange theory by refining the usual version of the exchange hypothesis, which is based on the notion of compensating differentials, with a more specific hypothesis based on diminishing marginal utility.

We show that observed matching patterns support the more specific version of exchange based on the notion of diminishing marginal utility.

Within this framework, marriage is seen as an exchange of resources between partners, and marital selection follows the principle that each person attempts to find a suitable mate subject to market constraints. The sociological literature distinguishes two types of preferences in mate selection: Spousal resemblance on a trait—referred to as homogamy—occurs either because people simply prefer partners who are similar to themselves or because they are competing for the most highly ranked partner Schwartz ; Xie, Cheng, and Zhou As men and women attempt to marry up and reject suitors of lower rank than themselves, marriages will tend to be contracted between partners with similar characteristics.

Status exchange is a specific pattern of intermarriage involving two or more hierarchical traits—one partner has a relative advantage in one trait but a relative disadvantage in the other. Why do partners exchange traits? A general explanation of exchange, commonly found in the literature, is compensating differentials e.

As the number of characteristics that individuals sort on increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to form a perfectly homogamous match Cheng and Xie The notion of compensating differentials extends to more than two traits; the important point is that the sum of the pluses and minuses balance one another within couples. In this study, we test the following formulation of the exchange hypothesis with respect to education and social origins.

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Among couples who intermarry across social origin and education groups, the partner with higher education will tend to have lower social origins and the partner with lower education will tend to have higher social origins. Note that the notion of compensating differentials only predicts that the sums of the pluses and minuses across traits are roughly equal between spouses; it does not predict a particular pattern or direction to the balancing of traits.

To illustrate this, consider a marriage market in which all men and women are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 for their education and social origin, and mate selection is based purely on those scores. Also, assume that everyone has the same preferences for education and social origin. Let us examine the choice of a man with an education score of 6 and a social origin score of 4 E6O4 for short.

The mechanism of compensating differentials predicts that if this man marries across boundaries, he is more likely to marry a woman of equal marriageability—that is, someone with the same sum score of 10 e. Among the various types of women with a sum score of 10, this mechanism does not indicate which type he prefers.

For example, the man might marry a woman of E7O3 or he might marry a woman of E4O6.

relationship between marriage and social status

Both of these marriages are exchange marriages because in each the partner with relatively higher educational attainment has relatively lower social origins, but they differ in terms of who has the advantage on which trait. Diminishing Marginal Utility We further hypothesize that patterns of exchange are consistent with the notion of diminishing marginal utility.

The economic law of diminishing marginal utility states that as a person increases consumption of one good while keeping consumption of other goods constantthere is a decline in the utility the person derives from consuming an additional unit of that good. According to a study prepared for The Spectator, someone in the top class i. At the turn of the century, the gap was 22 per cent. But if you think that marriage is the most powerful sponsor of health, wealth and education, then it ought to be alarming.

A new inequality is being bred in our society.

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Figures for the proportion of children born outside marriage seldom rose above five per cent from the Victorian era right up to the s. Then things started to change.

Since then, it has almost quadrupled. And the decline of marriage has been far more pronounced in working-class areas than in genteel middle England.

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The Marriage Foundation recently discovered that 87 per cent of mothers from higher income groups are married today, compared with just 24 per cent of those at the other end of the social scale.

Marriage is in very healthy shape for the upper middle class. Indeed, for all their progressive politics, the haute bourgeoisie are highly conservative in their behaviour.

Sure, most of the mothers go back to work after their children enter full-time education, but then the local schools also depend on volunteer parents, mostly mothers, to be the social glue holding everything together, just as their grannies did.

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As one of the other local dads said to me, observing the contradiction between how right-on people are in their politics and how traditional in their lives: These ideas are unfashionable precisely because the wealthier and better-educated find them easier to live by. But what explains the social marriage gap? There is truth in both. Earlier this year, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that marriage was a casualty of deindustrialisation.

In regions where well paid working-class male jobs had declined, due to technology or globalisation, marriage rates had fallen sharply. In stark economic terms, non-college-educated men struggle to support a family nowadays in much of the West.

Indeed, two-thirds of unwed Americans cite finances as a reason for not marrying. These changing patterns are partly shaped by a welfare state that allows for lower-income women to scrape by with children without the need for a suitable mate, of whom there are now increasingly few available. And scrape by they do. In Britain, 47 per cent of children in lone- parent families live in relative poverty, almost twice the proportion of those whose parents live together.

The controversy here is about which way the causal arrow points: Is it causation or correlation? But progress is slow.