Constraints and Conventions in African Assortative Mating

A PSC Brown Bag Seminar

Margaret Frye

Monday, 02/25/2019, 12:00 pm to 1:20 pm.   ARCHIVED EVENT

Location: 1430 ISR - Thompson

Educational attainment is a central determinant of social positioning in African society, particularly as schooling has spread across the continent. When the educational composition of a population changes, longstanding systems of social stratification are transformed, including intra-marital assortative norms. The relative scarcity or abundance of a given credential influences marital sorting processes in two ways: by altering the composition of the population and by reconfiguring cultural conventions and gendered valuations of status. Using DHS data representing 32 sub-Saharan African countries and five decades of birth cohorts, we examine the prevalence and propensity of educational assortative outcomes as a function of educational access (the percentage of a cohort who ever attended school) and wife's educational attainment. We demonstrate that educational expansion created gendered changes in educational compositions, which led to increased prevalence of hypergamy (wives who married "up") in most countries, despite a growing aversion to hypergamy in nearly all countries and across all educational groups.

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Margaret Frye's research investigates the complex and often misaligned relationships between culture, ideas, and demographic patterns. Much of our shared culture is about what people do during key life junctures—finishing school, getting married, having a child, starting a career—but our beliefs, ideals, and expectations are imperfect reflections of these demographic regularities. Frye uses a diverse set of both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate these questions. Her research is primarily located in sub-Saharan Africa, and she is currently in the midst of a longitudinal data collection project in Kampala, Uganda, examining changing understandings of status resulting from Uganda’s simultaneous expansion of university education and contraction of formal employment opportunities. Her research has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, American Journal of sociology, Demography, and Population and Development Review.

PSC Brown Bag seminars highlight recent research in population studies and serve as a focal point for building our research community.

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