The Educational Gradient in Singlehood, Educational Assortative Mating and the Role of Country-Level Inequalities in Europe

Alessandra Trimarchi , Institut National d’Études Démographiques (INED)
Laurent Toulemon, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Previous studies suggested that the better-educated are more likely to enter into a partnership and they are also more likely to form educationally homogamous unions. It is much less clear to what extent these findings are generalizable across genders, periods, and countries. Moreover, the role played by societal context in shaping the educational gradient in union formation has been often disregarded. Using Generations and Gender Surveys data of 15 countries and by means of a two-stage regression approach, we examine whether the negative educational gradient in singlehood for men and women is steeper in countries where social inequalities are stronger. We also hypothesize that lower educated are more likely to form heterogamous unions relative to the highly educated. We expect that these differences are larger in countries where socio-economic inequalities are stronger. Preliminary results show that in countries where highly educated perform better in terms of unemployment rates, both for men and women, the educational gradient in singlehood is more negative. Next, focusing on two periods, before and after the 1990, we found that compared to their highly educated counterpart, low educated are more likely to form heterogamous unions. This gradient is more marked in the period after the 1990. Still, contrary to our expectations, we found that the negative gradient in heterogamy becomes flatter in countries with stronger income inequalities, as indicated by the Gini Index.

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 Presented in Session 105. (Re)Production of Inequalities