Educational Assortative Mating, Development, and Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Luca Maria Pesando , Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania

Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries are undergoing rapid transformations in the realm of union formation together with increases in female educational attainment. Also, SSA is among the world regions with the highest levels of inequality. In spite of this, never has the assortative mating literature focused on patterns and implications of mating within SSA. Using Demographic and Health Surveys from 39 countries between 1986 and 2016, this paper is the first to examine changing patterns of educational assortative mating and relate them to prevailing theories on mating and development. Results show that, net of shifts in educational distributions, mating has increased over marriage cohort in all sub-regions except for Southern Africa, with increases driven mostly by rural areas. The inequality analysis conducted by variance decomposition and counterfactual approaches reveals that mating accounts for 3-to-12 percent of the cohort-specific inequality in household wealth, yet changes in mating over time hardly move time trends in wealth inequality.

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 Presented in Session 120. Marriage, Assortative Mating and Inequality