The gender-gap reversal in education and its effect on union formation: The end of hypergamy?

Albert Esteve, Joan García-Román, Iñaki Permanyer

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Newly released census microdata reveal the nearly worldwide and substantial decline in educational hypergamy (women marrying men with higher educational attainment) across 56 countries from the 1970s to the 2000s. We examine the extent to which the observed decrease in hypergamy is connected to the worldwide rise in female educational attainment. Our results show that educational hypergamy is an enduring form of gender inequality in union formation across the countries examined but that it has been decreasing over the last few decades and in some countries has reversed in recent years. Overall, we find a strong association between hypergamy and gender differences in educational attainment. Societies in which the female educational advantage is greater tend to have lower levels of educational hypergamy. There is a tendency toward a joint increase in women's educational levels and a decrease in educational hypergamy. This article underlines the influence of women's educational opportunities on the increase in gender symmetry in assortative mating, which leads us to predict the end of educational hypergamy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-546
Number of pages12
JournalPopulation and Development Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


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