CEO’s Don’t Marry Their Secretaries Anymore: The Rise of Assortative Mating

Assortative Mating is the new sexy with far-reaching consequences for income inequality.  Assortative mating means people with similar socioeconomic backgrounds tend increasingly to marry each other.

And if you despise the idea of the powerful male CEO marrying a subservient secretary, worry no more.  Long gone are the days when a CEO will marry his secretary.  And if the CEO is female, she will increasingly look for a CFO or COO as a mate.  Like marries like.  And those with low educational levels and low incomes find themselves the losers in the marriage market.

Education and financial means were not always the greatest predictors of who would marry who and household income.  Looking at households from the U.S. Census Bureau during the period 1960 to 2005, in 1960 if a woman with less-than-high-school education married a similarly educated man, their family income would have been 77% of the national mean household income.  In 2005, that income number dropped to 41% of the national mean household income.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the income of a married couple in which both partners had post-college education moved from 176% of national mean household income in 1960 to 219% of in 2015.

So if you have only a high school diploma, chances are you will marry someone with only a high school diploma. (Or less.)  And instead of rising incomes, this couple will likely experience the opposite.  If they go on to have children, their kids will face hurdles that will be unknown to their peers from more affluent, better educated households.

Call me old-fashioned, but I kinda miss random mating.