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December 22, 2006


Chris Williams

Good point, Chris D - tragically, though, when divorce was nigh-on impossible to get, people still tended to marry others of similar social standing, which usually, though not always, mapped on to financial standing as well.

Mrs Trellis

Stimulating as usual. It might also be interesting as I think John Ermisch paper may do if I recall correctly to look at primary and secondary education changes, particularly the contraction of catchtment areas for schools over the last 40 years, on assortive mating.

I would also be very interested if you come across any work on the role of bequests in enabling social mobility - I antcipated finding a lot of research on this but haven't hit the right stream yet.

james C

Are you on drugs-what does a divorce settlement have to do with income?


"if high earners marry high earners, their children are more likely to inherit skills which make them high earners." The inheritance will presumably be nature rather than nurture - the latter coming mainly from the nanny.

Marcin Tustin

I'm afraid that you're way off here. The problem is not whether or not divorce is (easily) available, but whether or not the wife (or husband) can easily nab one's assets. In the USA they solve this with pre-nuptial agreements, but on the other side they have weird rules that pool spouses property.

Moreover, you ignore the fact that many couples will now spawn without contracting a legal marriage. For a wealthy couple, putting in the necessary documentation to avoid the inconveniences of that should quite affordable.

John Freeland

"But there is some mixed evidence that assortative mating is a factor in rising inequality and declining social mobility."

I doubt such "Romeo and Juliet" marriages where couples from opposite sides of the tracks get together and marry have ever been common. The bigger factor may be that the poor simply reproduce at a higher rate than the well-off do. Any scheme to elevate the poor has to seriously address family planning.

The opportunities for members of diverse socioeconomic strata to interact are likely diminishing. We live in increasingly economically segregated enclaves.

When I was a kid, we lived in a town where there literally was a "tracks" separating neighborhoods of differing family incomes. But, kids went to the same public school, played on the same teams, used the same parks, shopped (mostly) in the same stores downtown, went to the same churches, said hello (or otherwise spoke to each other) on the street. It wasn't free of class-consciousness, but we knew each other, sort of. Isn't it different now?


There is another aspect here; Ugly rich men with bad personalities can still get good looking women as wives with easy divorce settlements. The women can claim a share of his wealth after a few years as payment for putting up with him, the man gets a few years of good sex before being able to move onto the younger model.

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james higham

...At the margin, bosses will be more reluctant to marry their secretaries. They’ll prefer higher-earning women who are less likely to regard them as a meal ticket...

Don't know of too many bosses who'd prefer a high earning woman. These tend to be married to their careers on the whole.


The answer is (obviously) to make marriage much harder.

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