Understanding the Tendency of People to Marry Partners of Similar Education Levels

by Savitha C Muppala on Apr 28 2011 11:16 PM

 Understanding the Tendency of People to Marry Partners of Similar Education Levels
Why do people marry partners with similar education levels ? A recent study throws some light.
Social scientists have known for years that married people tend to be sorted by their levels of education, but the reasons for it have been elusive.

It is believed that it could be all about money or have to do with lifestyle factors.

But some might argue that sorting by education has less to do with personal preference and more to do with whom we're likely to meet as people often meet their future spouses in college, grad school or workplace.

Now, Gustaf Bruze, an economist at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences in Denmark has said that movie star marriages can help sort all this out.

Bruze assembled a large data set of top movie stars' marriages, earnings, and education levels. He found that level of formal education has no correlation with a movie star's success, either in terms of box office earnings or the likelihood of winning an Oscar.

His analysis showed that despite the disconnect between education and success, movie stars who marry each other still tend to have similar educational backgrounds.

His data also showed that actors are unlikely to meet their spouses in school, or be cast together in movies due to their education level.

The findings suggest that sorting on education isn't all about the money or solely an artifact of professional affiliations.

"What it says is that men and women have very strong preferences for nonfinancial partner traits correlated with education," said Bruze.

"And educational sorting would remain even if the tendency of men and women to work with colleagues of a similar educational background were to disappear or if the role of educational institutions as a meeting place for future husbands and wives were to disappear," he said.

The findings were published in the spring issue of the Journal of Human Capital.