Educational Heterogamy and Marital Satisfaction Between Spouses

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In choosing marriage partners, we generally look for someone with similar status characteristics to our own. This paper suggests that status inequalities may be hypothesized to make a difference in marital satisfaction. Using the couple as the unit of analysis, the effects of educational heterogamy on marital satisfaction were investigated. Using ordinary least-squares regression, we found that when husbands had more education than their wives, both partners reported less than happy marriages with more disagreement and less positive feedback. Conversely, when the wife had more education, both partners reported more satisfaction with the marriage. Using results from the ordinary least-squares regression, a two-stage least-squares model was estimated. In this more complete model, the strongest effect on each partner's marital satisfaction was the feedback regarding the other partner's happiness within the marriage. Possible explanations for these findings are presented. We argue that longitudinal studies, using the couple as the unit of analysis, are essential if we wish to study the processes of marital interaction between spouses.


A version of this paper was presented at the 1983 American Sociological Association's Annual Meeting.

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Social Science Research

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