Assortative Mating and the Reconfiguration of Social Status From Parents to Children: Trends in Childbearing by Men and Women’s Characteristics for U.S. Couples 2000–2015

Margaret M. Weden , RAND Corporation
Michael S. Rendall, University of Maryland
Joey Brown, University of Maryland
Polina Zvavitch, University of Maryland

Trends in assortative mating help illuminate changes in the malleability of social boundaries that can in turn fuel social mobility. Knowledge about assortative mating’s role in social mobility, however, is seriously limited by an absence of evidence about the patterns of childbearing by couples whose union crosses social boundaries. We examine whether rates of childbearing differ, and have changed over time, by couples’ racial/ethnic heterogamy using the American Community Survey (ACS), 2001-2016. In completed analyses combining the ACS and Survey of Income and Program Participation, we will also evaluate the role of educational attainment and labor market participation in explaining these differentials. Findings will help illuminate whether “status exchanges” across racial/ethnic and educational status hierarchies help to facilitate couple-based strategies for negotiating work-family constraints on childbearing. The study thus helps to provide a more complete understanding of the role of assortative mating in the reproduction of social status over generations.

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 Presented in Session 210. Flash Session: Recent Trends in Fertility and Contraception in the United States