Eight Decades of Educational Assortative Mating

Noah Hirschl, Christine R. Schwartz, and Elia Boschetti

Working Paper no. 2022-01


Recent social and economic trends in the United States including increasing inequality, women’s growing educational advantage, and the rise of online dating have ambiguous implications for patterns of educational homogamy. In this research note, we examine changes in educational assortative mating in the United States over the last eight decades, extending and expanding work by Schwartz and Mare (2005). We find that the rise in educational homogamy noted by Schwartz and Mare has not continued. Increases in educational homogamy stalled around 1990 and began reversing in the 2000s. We find a growing tendency to cross educational boundaries, but a college degree remains the strongest dividing line to intermarriage. A key trend explaining this new pattern is women’s increasing tendency to marry men with less education than themselves. Homogamy would have continued increasing until recently if not for this trend. We also show substantial heterogeneity by race, ethnicity, and nativity, and among same- versus different-sex couples.