Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Swiss Journal of Sociology

Revue Suisse de sociologie/ Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Soziologie

3 Issues per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Do Opposites Attract? Educational Assortative Mating and Dynamics of Wage Homogamy in Switzerland, 1992–2014

Laura Ravazzini
  • University of Neuchâtel, Institute of Sociology and Foundation for the Research in Social Sciences (FORS), CH-2000 Neuchâtel
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ursina Kuhn / Christian Suter
Published Online: 2017-12-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjs-2017-0028


This paper addresses homogamy and assortative mating in Switzerland. The empirical analysis monitors trends for education and hourly wages using the Swiss Labour Force Survey and the Swiss Household Panel. The analysis disentangles the effects of educational expansion from mating patterns and incorporates not only couples, but also singles. Results show an increasing level of assortative mating both for education and for wages. For wage homogamy, selection is more important than adaptation.

Keywords: educational expansion; assortative mating; hourly wages; homogamy; cohabitation

6 References

  • Balestra, Simone and Uschi Backes-Gellner. 2017. Heterogeneous Returns to Education Over the Wage Distribution: Who Profits the Most? Labour Economics 44: 89–105.Google Scholar

  • Becker, Rolf and Christoph Zangger. 2013. Die Bildungsexpansion in der Schweiz und ihre Folgen. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 65(3): 423–449.Google Scholar

  • Black, Sandra E. and Paul J. Devereux. 2011. Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility. Pp. 1487–1541 in Handbook of Labor Economics Vol. 4B, edited by David Card and Orley Ashenfelter. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar

  • Blossfeld, Hans-Peter. 2009. Educational Assortative Marriage in Comparative Perspective. Annual Review of Sociology 35: 513–530.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Blossfeld, Hans-Peter and Andreas Timm. 2003. Who Marries Whom? Educational Systems as Marriage Markets in Modern Societies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Breen, Richard and Leire Salazar. 2011. Educational Assortative Mating and Earnings Inequality in the United States. American Journal of Sociology 117(3): 808–843.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Breen, Richard and Leire Salazar. 2010. Has Increased Women’s Educational Attainment Led to Greater Earnings Inequality in the United Kingdom? A Multivariate Decomposition Analysis. European Sociological Review 26(2): 143–157.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Brines, Julie. 1994. Economic Dependency, Gender, and the Division of Labor at Home. American Journal of Sociology 100(3): 652–688.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Budría, Santiago and Pedri Telhado-Pereira. 2011. Educational Qualifications and Wage Inequality: Evidence for Europe. Revista de Economía Aplicada 19(56): 5–34.Google Scholar

  • Bühlmann, Felix and Céline Schmid Botkine (eds.). 2012. Rapport social 2012: Générations en jeu. Zurich: Seismo Press.Google Scholar

  • Chadwick, Laura and Gary Solon. 2002. Intergenerational Income Mobility Among Daughters. American Economic Review 92(1): 335–344.Google Scholar

  • Collins, Randall. 1971. Functional and Conflict Theories of Educational Stratification. American Sociological Review 36(6): 1002–1019.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Diekmann, Andreas and Kurt Schmidheiny. 2001. Education and Marriage. An Event-History Analysis of Swiss Family Biographies. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Soziologie 27(2): 241–254.Google Scholar

  • Dribe, Martin and Paul Nystedt. 2013. Educational Homogamy and Gender-Specific Earnings: Sweden, 1990–2009. Demography 50(4): 1197–1216.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 2007. Sociological Explanations of Changing Income Distributions. American Behavioral Scientist 50(5): 639–658.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta and John Myles. 2011. Economic Inequality and the Welfare State. Pp. 639−664 in The Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality, edited by Brian Nolan, Wiemer Salverda, and Timothy M. Smeeding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Fernandez, Rarquel, Nezih Guner, and John Knowles. 2005. Love and Money: Inequality, Education, and Marital Sorting. Quarterly Journal of Economics 120(1): 273–344.Google Scholar

  • Förster, Michael. 2000. Trends and Driving Factors in Income Inequality and Poverty in the OECD Area. OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Paper No. 42. Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/488747757407 (27.02.2017)Crossref

  • Frémeaux, Nicolas and Arnaud Lefranc. 2015. Assortative Mating and Earnings Inequality in France. 6th Meeting of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality ECINEQ. Lexembourg, July 13–15, 2017. http://www.ecineq.org/ecineq_lux15/FILESx2015/CR2/p224.pdf (27.02.2017).

  • Goode, William J. 1963. World Revolution and Family Patterns. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar

  • Grotti, Raffaele and Stefani Scherer. 2016. Does Gender Equality Increase Economic Inequality? Evidence From Five Countries. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 45: 13–26.Google Scholar

  • Hou, Feng and John Myles. 2008. The Changing Role of Education in the Marriage Market: Assortative Marriage in Canada and the United States Since the 1970s. Canadian Journal of Sociology 33(2): 337–366.Google Scholar

  • Hu, Anning and Zhenchao Qian. 2016. Does Higher Education Expansion Promote Educational Homogamy? Evidence from Married Couples of the Post-80s Generation in Shanghai, China. Social Science Research 60: 148–162.Google Scholar

  • Kalmijn, Matthijs. 1998. Intermarriage and Homogamy: Causes, Patterns, Trends. Annual Review of Sociology 24: 395–421.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kalmijn, Matthijs. 1994. Assortative Mating by Cultural and Economic Occupational Status. American Journal of Sociology 100(2): 422–452.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Keeley, Brian. 2015. Income Inequality: The Gap Between Rich and Poor. OECD Insights. Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264246010-en (27.02.2017).Crossref

  • Kremer, Michael. 1997. How Much Does Sorting Increase Inequality? Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(1): 115–139.Google Scholar

  • Kuhn, Ursina and Laura Ravazzini. 2017. The Impact of Assortative Mating on Income Inequality in Switzerland. FORS Working papers, 2017–1.Google Scholar

  • Lemieux, Thomas. 2006. Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill? The American Economic Review 96(3): 461–498.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Leuven, Edwin, Hessel Oosterbeek, and Hans Van Ophem. 2004. Explaining International Differences in Male Skill Wage Differentials by Differences in Demand and Supply of Skill. The Economic Journal 114(495): 466–486.Google Scholar

  • Liu, Haoming and Jingfeng Lu. 2006. Measuring the Degree of Assortative Mating. Economics Letters 92(3): 317–322.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mare, Robert D. 1991. Five Decades of Educational Assortative Mating. American Sociological Review 56(1): 15–32.Google Scholar

  • McPherson, Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M. Cook. 2001. Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks. Annual Review of Sociology 27: 415–444.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nakosteen, Robert A., Olle Westerlund, and Michael A. Zimmer. 2004. Marital Matching and Earnings: Evidence from the Unmarried Population in Sweden. The Journal of Human Resources 39(4): 1033–1044.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pestel, Nico. 2016. Marital Sorting, Inequality and the Role of Female Labour Supply: Evidence From East and West Germany. Economica 84(333): 104–127.Google Scholar

  • Schumacher, Reto and Luigi Lorenzetti. 2005. “We Have No Proletariat”: Social Stratification and Occupational Homogamy in Industrial Switzerland, Winterthur 1909/1910–1928. International Review of Social History 50(S13): 65–91.Google Scholar

  • Schwartz, Christine R. 2013. Trends and Variation in Assortative Mating: Causes and Consequences. Annual Review of Sociology 39: 451–470.Google Scholar

  • Schwartz, Christine R. 2010. Earnings Inequality and the Changing Association Between Spouses’ Earnings. American Journal of Sociology 115(5): 1524–1557.Google Scholar

  • Schwartz, Christine R. and Robert D. Mare. 2005. Trends in Educational Assortative Marriage From 1940 to 2003. Demography 42(4): 621–646.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Smits, Jeroen. 2003. Social Closure Among the Higher Educated: Trends in Educational Homogamy in 55 Countries. Social Science Research 32(2): 251–277.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Smits, Jeroen, Wout Ultee, and Jan Lammers. 2000. More or Less Educational Homogamy? A Test of Different Versions of Modernization Theory Using Cross-Temporal Evidence for 60 Countries. American Sociological Review 65(5): 781–788.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Smits, Jeroen, Wout Ultee, and Jan Lammers. 1998. Educational Homogamy in 65 Countries: An Explanation of Differences in Openness Using Country-Level Explanatory Variables. American Sociological Review 63(2): 264–285.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sweeney, Megan M. and Maria Cancian. 2004. The Changing Importance of White Women’s Economic Prospects for Assortative Mating. Journal of Marriage and Family 66(4): 1015–1028.Google Scholar

  • SFSO (Swiss Federal Statistical Office). 2016. Portrait de la Suisse – résultats tirés des recensements de la population 2010–2014. Neuchâtel. https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/fr/home/statistiques/population.assetdetail.1021365.html (27.02.2017).

  • Tillmann, Robin, Marieke Voorpostel, Ursina Kuhn, Florence Lebert, Valérie-Anne Ryser, Oliver Lipps, Boris Wernli, and Erika Antal. 2016. The Swiss Household Panel Study: Observing Social Change Since 1999. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 7(1): 64–78.Google Scholar

  • Trostel, Philip, Ian Walker, and Paul Woolley. 2002. Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for 28 Countries. Labour Economics 9(1): 1–16.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Ultee, Wout C. and Ruud Luijkx. 1990. Educational Heterogamy and Father–to–Son Occupational Mobility in 23 Industrial Nations: General Societal Openness or Compensatory Strategies of Reproduction? European Sociological Review 6(2): 125–149.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Ultee, Wout C., Jos Dessens, and Wim Jansen. 1988. Why Does Unemployment Come in Couples? An Analysis of (Un)Employment and (Non)Employment Homogamy Tables for Canada, the Netherlands and the United States in the 1980s. European Sociological Review 4(2): 111–122.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Winkler, Anne E., Timothy McBride, and Courtney Andrews. 2005. Wives Who Outearn Their Husbands: A Transitory or Persistent Phenomenon for Couples? Demography 42(3): 523–535.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Zimmer, Michael. 1996. Assortative Mating and Ethnicity in the Low Wage Population: An Examination of Spouses’ Earnings. Applied Economic Letters 3(5): 311–315.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2017-12-19

Published in Print: 2017-11-01

Citation Information: Swiss Journal of Sociology, Volume 43, Issue 3, Pages 567–586, ISSN (Online) 2297-8348, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjs-2017-0028.

Export Citation

© 2017 Laura Ravazzini et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in