Ever heard of “assortative mating”? It’s just a fancy term for marrying a spouse with a similar educational background. And according to Quartz, college-educated Black women better jump on the assortative mating bandwagon. They’re losing out on attaining a higher household income because they’re “marrying down.”
The concept is simple, really: assortative mating brings forth greater income because two college graduates multiply household earnings by two in comparison to households with less-educated couples. Marrying within your educational achievement bracket also paves the way for better intergenerational mobility:
“Families with two college graduates will have more money to invest in their children and may be able to afford private K-12 schools or homes in top-notch school districts. They are also more likely to have jobs offering greater flexibility, allowing them to better balance work and family life,” Quartz said.
Of course, on the flip side, less educated households face work insecurity, paltry pay, and limited access to quality education for their kids.
But Quartz points to one factor that affects assortative mating patterns — race.
Black women face more difficulties seeking a mate of their educational ilk in comparison to White women “…because of racist attitudes to inter-marriage.” Those are Quartz’s words, quoting a study from sociologist Phillip N. Cohen, not mine.
Just 49 percent of Black women marry a well-educated spouse. Compare this to a whopping 89 percent of White women.
Here’s a look at the racial landscape of bachelor’s degree holders in America: 37 percent of White women have a BA, followed by 29 percent of White men, 23 percent of Black women, and 16 percent of Black men, according to Quartz’s analysis.
“The chance for a college graduate to marry another college graduate is likely to be greater if there are more marriages across race lines, since this will expand the pool of potential mates. This is especially true for those from minority racial groups,” Quartz adds.
The Black population, though, is least likely to cross racial lines to marry.
As a result, the costs of “marrying down” are high. “Black women who marry less-educated men have lower household incomes, to the tune of almost $25,000 a year,” Quartz said.
While Black women (and men) are dragged down my various other factors such as school quality, criminal justice, college access, wealth gaps, segregation and discrimination, Quartz says that assortative mating — or lack there of — contributes to the racial disparity.
“There has been progress towards a ‘post-racist’ society, we are still a long way short of a “post-racial” one,” Quartz concludes.