Home Sociology Diverging Destinies: The Japanese Case
Educational Assortative Mating
Japan has long been characterized by a high degree of educational assortative mating (Suzuki 1991; Watanabe and Kondo 1990; Yasuda 1971). The strong tendency for educational homogamy or female hypergamy is clearly important for understanding educational differences in marriage behavior in response to rapid relative improvements in women’s educational attainment. For example, Raymo and Iwasawa (2005) showed that the increased competition for a relatively smaller pool of highly educated men contributed to the decline in marriage rates among highly educated women during the period 1980-1995.
Patterns of diverging destinies suggest that the tendency for homogamous pairings should be increasing at both the top and the bottom of the educational distributions. Consistent with this, Ishida and Motegi (2014) show that the likelihood of educational homogamy is much higher among four-year college graduates and those with a high school degree or less than it is among those in the middle category (vocational school and junior college). Recent research on trends in assortative mating is limited, but there is some evidence that educational homogamy is, if anything, declining (Raymo and Xie 2000; Smits and Park 2009). For example, Fukuda and Raymo (2015) find that the propensity for highly educated women to marry men with less education than themselves has increased in recent years (see also Iwasawa 2013). They speculate that this reflects women’s response to the marriage market mismatch described by Raymo and Iwasawa (2005) as well as shifting attitudes among men regarding wives’ relative educational attainment and economic contributions to the family. They do not find any evidence of an increase in the propensity for educational homogamy among those with a high school education or less, suggesting that trends in educational assortative mating in
Japan are not consistent with a growing bifurcation of resources at the two ends of the socioeconomic spectrum as observed in the U.S. (Schwartz 2010). In Sect. 3.4, we will provide updated figures on patterns of educational assortative mating.
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