The Gender Gap Reversal in Educational Attainment and Age Differences in Marital and Non-Marital Unions across Europe

André Grow, University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Jan Van Bavel , Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

The gender gap reversal in education has been expected to have major implications for family life. Earlier research has already shown that the reversal has affected patterns of assortative mating and divorce. In this paper, we contribute to this body of research. We explore how the reversal has affected age differences in heterosexual unions across Europe. Age differentials within unions are a source of inequality between the sexes, and Van Bavel (2012) has argued that the gender gap reversal may lead to an increase in age differences within unions to women’s disadvantage. To assess the link between the gender gap reversal and age differences, we combine simulation techniques with empirical data analyses based on the European Social Survey. Our results show that especially in higher-order unions, the gender gap reversal was associated with a decrease men’s age advantage over their female partners and an increase in women’s age disadvantage.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course