The Wealth of Parents: Trends Over Time in Assortative Mating Based on Parental Wealth

Diederik Boertien, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), Universitat de Barcelona
Sander Wagner , École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique
Mette Gørtz, University of Copenhagen

Partner selection based on ascribed characteristics is often found to have become less important over time in comparison to selection based on achieved characteristics. Increasing wealth inequality, however, might have strengthened homogamy based on a person’s family wealth. Using administrative data from Denmark, we are the first to provide estimates of changes over time in parental wealth homogamy. The data allow us to directly observe wealth of both partners’ parents at the time of union formation. Even though the correlation between partners’ parental wealth is relatively low, it has increased considerably during the observation period of this study (1991-2013). Additional analysis suggests that these trends can to an important extent be explained by an increased association between own education and parental wealth. Educational homogamy therewith creates a stronger association between partners’ parental wealth today than in the past.

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 Presented in Session 120. Marriage, Assortative Mating and Inequality