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Educational heterogamy and marital quality: a new look at the old question(s)

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The detrimental effect of heterogamy on relationship quality and stability is well established in sociological theory. However, empirical research has failed to provide unequivocal support for this view. An important reason for this appears to be at a conceptual level. Focusing on educational heterogamy, two types of effects have been commonly examined under the banner of heterogamy effects: 1. the effect of the educational difference between the partners, and 2. the interaction effect between the levels of education of the partners. Despite representing two conceptually different views on heterogamy effects, previous research has failed to distinguish between them. This paper presents the theoretical distinction between both heterogamy effects, and empirically analyses them. This is done using Diagonal Reference Models – a technique from social mobility research that is particularly useful for analyzing heterogamy effects. Based on data concerning 643 couples from the survey Child-rearing and family in the Netherlands, it is shown that the effect of the educational difference is felt by both men and women as both report the highest marital satisfaction in marriages where the educational difference is to the advantage of the husband. In addition, men, but not women, are subject to the interaction effect, as the importance of his level of education in determining his own degree of marital satisfaction is accentuated, the more the educational balance in the couple is to his advantage. These results illustrate how conceptual clarification, in combination with the appropriate analysis technique may advance the field of heterogamy research.

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Chicago
Eeckhaut, Mieke, Bart Van de Putte, Jan Gerris, and Ad Vermulst. 2010. “Educational Heterogamy and Marital Quality: a New Look at the Old Question(s).” In Conference of the British Society of Population Studies, Abstracts.
APA
Eeckhaut, Mieke, Van de Putte, B., Gerris, J., & Vermulst, A. (2010). Educational heterogamy and marital quality: a new look at the old question(s). Conference of the British society of population studies, Abstracts. Presented at the Conference of the British Society of Population Studies (BSPS - 2010).
Vancouver
1.
Eeckhaut M, Van de Putte B, Gerris J, Vermulst A. Educational heterogamy and marital quality: a new look at the old question(s). Conference of the British society of population studies, Abstracts. 2010.
MLA
Eeckhaut, Mieke, Bart Van de Putte, Jan Gerris, et al. “Educational Heterogamy and Marital Quality: a New Look at the Old Question(s).” Conference of the British Society of Population Studies, Abstracts. 2010. Print.
@inproceedings{1257955,
  abstract     = {The detrimental effect of heterogamy on relationship quality and stability is well established in sociological theory. However, empirical research has failed to provide unequivocal support for this view. An important reason for this appears to be at a conceptual level. Focusing on educational heterogamy, two types of effects have been commonly examined under the banner of heterogamy effects: 1. the effect of the educational difference between the partners, and 2. the interaction effect between the levels of education of the partners. Despite representing two conceptually different views on heterogamy effects, previous research has failed to distinguish between them. This paper presents the theoretical distinction between both heterogamy effects, and empirically analyses them. This is done using Diagonal Reference Models -- a technique from social mobility research that is particularly useful for analyzing heterogamy effects. Based on data concerning 643 couples from the survey Child-rearing and family in the Netherlands, it is shown that the effect of the educational difference is felt by both men and women as both report the highest marital satisfaction in marriages where the educational difference is to the advantage of the husband. In addition, men, but not women, are subject to the interaction effect, as the importance of his level of education in determining his own degree of marital satisfaction is accentuated, the more the educational balance in the couple is to his advantage. These results illustrate how conceptual clarification, in combination with the appropriate analysis technique may advance the field of heterogamy research.},
  author       = {Eeckhaut, Mieke and Van de Putte, Bart and Gerris, Jan  and Vermulst, Ad},
  booktitle    = {Conference of the British society of population studies, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Exeter, UK},
  title        = {Educational heterogamy and marital quality: a new look at the old question(s)},
  year         = {2010},
}