Marriage Equality: Adding to the Class Divide?

It hinges on a notion called 'assortative mating'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2016 3:51 PM CST
Marriage Equality: Adding to the Class Divide?
Beyonce and Jay Z attend the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Marriage equality is on the rise at the same time class segregation is growing—but are the two connected? Yep, rising equality in the American marriage (where women make more money than before) appears oddly linked to greater inequality throughout the economy, the New York Times reports. "It’s this notion of this growing equality between husbands and wives having this paradoxical effect of growing inequality across households," says sociologist Christine Schwartz. The change hinges on "assortative mating," the notion that people marry others with similar values, lifestyle, education, and earnings potential. The trend rose early last century, declined in the middle decades, and has returned with a vengeance. Now fewer women are aiming for breadwinners and men for homemakers, a division of labor that once brought classes together.

Today, there's a perfect storm that keeps uptown folk with uptown folk. Women's pay is rising—up from 52% of men's pay in 1970 to 78% today—so marriage is more about finding a like-minded companion than someone to divide the labor, according to research from the University of Michigan. What's more, people meet more often at work and marry later in life, with a better sense of the other's prospects. They can also find "just the right mate" on Tinder and, the Times reported last year. Not to mention that married people already have a financial head start: "People who are married tend to be more advantaged, and on top of that, more advantaged people are marrying people like themselves, so those people tend to be doubly advantaged," says Schwartz. Click for the full piece. (More marriage equality stories.)

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