Assortative Mating in Russia, 1993 and 2007: Forms, Changes, and Implications for Inequality

Theodore P. Gerber, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Comparative research suggests that associations between spouses’ characteristics tend to be stronger in more unequal societies. In many countries undergoing market transition, earnings inequality grew dramatically and market reforms increased the importance of education and labor market earnings as determinants of life chances. These changes could increase the associations between spouses’ characteristics by raising the cost of “marrying down.” We analyze whether the associations between husbands’ and wives’ characteristics change in connection with market transition in Russia using nationally-representative surveys conducted in 1993 and 2007. In the post-Soviet era the associations between spouses’ education levels and earnings in extant marriages both increased substantially. The stronger associations pertain to both the probability of homogamy and the off-diagonal associations. For both education and earnings, the associations are strongest for the top of the distribution. More than during the Soviet era, marriages in Russia now compound rather than alleviate economic inequalities among households.

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Presented in Poster Session 5