Tag Archives | Social Stratification

Marrying Up by Marrying Down: Status Exchange between Social Origin and Education in the United States

Christine R. Schwartz, Zhen Zeng, Yu Xie

Sociological Science, November 28, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a44

Intermarriage plays a key role in stratification systems. Spousal resemblance reinforces social boundaries within and across generations, and the rules of intermarriage govern the ways that social mobility may occur. We examine intermarriage across social origin and education boundaries in the United States using data from the 1968–2013 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our evidence points to a pattern of status exchange—that is, persons with high education from modest backgrounds tend to marry those with lower education from more privileged backgrounds. Our study contributes to an active methodological debate by pinpointing the conditions under which the results pivot from evidence against exchange to evidence for exchange and advances theory by showing that the rules of exchange are more consistent with the notion of diminishing marginal utility than the more general theory of compensating differentials.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Christine R. Schwartz: Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Email: cschwart@ssc.wisc.edu

Zhen Zeng: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Email: Zhen.Zeng@ojp.usdoj.gov

Yu Xie: Department of Sociology, Princeton University; Center for Social Research, Peking University
Email: yuxie@princeton.edu

Acknowledgements: This research was carried out using the facilities of the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (R24 HD047873), the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan (R24HD041028), and the Office of Population Research at Princeton University (R24H0047879). An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2012 Population Association of America meetings in San Francisco, CA. We are grateful to Aaron Gullickson for helpful comments and advice.

  • Citation: Schwartz, Christine R., Zhen Zeng, and Yu Xie. 2016. “Marrying Up by Marrying Down: Status Exchange between Social Origin and Education in the United States.” Sociological Science 3: 1003-1027.
  • Received: September 30, 2016
  • Accepted: October 9, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a44
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Class Inequality and Adult Attainment Projects among Middle-Aged Men in the United States, 1980—2010

Jeremy Pais, D. Matthew Ray

Sociological Science, April 29, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a11

Adult attainment projects (AAP) consist of a series of traditional adult statuses: labor force participation, residential independence, marriage, parenthood, and homeownership. This article examines these status indicators as integral parts of an individualized attainment project that is best assessed later in adulthood. Close examination of AAP gives novel insights into the changing U.S. opportunity structure that go beyond what can be achieved through studying temporal patterns of adult status indicators independently. From 1980 to 2010, rates of completed AAP declined by double digits, and the difference in the odds of completing AAP between men on different ends of the income distribution doubled. There are structural and cultural explanations for these trends. Divergence hypotheses favor structural explanations involving social stratification processes. Convergence hypotheses favor cultural explanations based on the loosening of norms regarding traditional adult statuses. This article uses factor analytic models on data from the Current Population Survey, in conjunction with formal measurement invariance testing, to evaluate these hypotheses. The adaptive differentiation hypothesis, a blended explanation positing analytically distinct AAP profiles for different socioeconomic groups, receives the most empirical support. The results affirm a structurally prevailing change in the lives of poor, working class, and lower-middle class Americans.
Jeremy Pais: Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut.  Email: j.pais@uconn.edu

D. Matthew Ray: Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut.   Email: matt.ray@uconn.edu

  • Citation: Pais, Jeremy, and D. Matthew Ray. 2015. “Class Inequality and Adult Attainment Projects among Middle-Aged Men in the United States, 1980—2010.” Sociological Science 2:211-234.
  • Received: October 10, 2014
  • Accepted: January 17, 2015
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a11
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