Educational Assortative Mating and Inequality: A Test from a Latin American Perspective

Florencia Torche, New York University

I conduct a comparative analysis of educational assortative mating (EAM) in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the US using Census data, and log-linear and log-multiplicative methods. The objectives are to describe Latin American EAM in comparative perspective; and to explain sources of cross-country variation, with an emphasis on socioeconomic inequality. The main findings are: Within countries, the pattern of EAM largely depends on economic inequality. Specifically, the difficulty of intermarriage between two educational categories largely depends on the economic distance (earnings gaps) between them. However, differences in EAM between countries are not related to differences in economic inequality. In particular, Brazil -- the most unequal country among those compared -- displays the lowest level of EAM. The “Brazilian anomaly” is not accounted for by a weaker anchoring of economic inequality on educational attainment, compositional effects associated with distribution of unions between marriages and cohabitations, or exchange between racial and educational resources.

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Presented in Session 171: Assortative Mating