Nowhere is this more evident and yet more tacit than in relationships: people marry into their own class. It\’s called \”assortative mating\”.
Err, no. People have generally married into their own class. Assortative mating describes how people seem to be marrying into their own job classification rather than class these days. We are trying to describe how mating habits have changed, not how they were.
For example, time was that a nice middle class girl would indeed marry a nice middle class boy. Or working class or aristocratic or upper middle class, each to their own. The ways around this were either the attainment of great wealth for a man or the possession of great beauty for a woman. Plus the inevitable bits and bobs of luck and happenstance.
The important point being that marriage was usually defined by the class one came from. Assortative mating is an attempt to describe what happens now, not what happened then.
We marry later, women expect to work for a living. 50% go to university and so on. Marriage is now something that happens at the end of one\’s 20s, not the beginning. Mates therefore are being found at university, or in those first few years of the career. Now we have lawyers marrying lawyers, plumbers marrying plumbers (err, OK, not so much but you get the idea). We have now the two professional income family, something almost unknown two generations ago. This very definitely leads to income inequality across households: but this is the process that assortative mating is trying to describe. That we have moved from a system of class based marriage to something much more like income or job based marriage.
Or if you prefer, marriage is now about what socio-economic group one is moving into rather than the one you came from.
Yes, yes, all the usual caveats about averages and so on. But Zoe dear has got entirely the wrong end of the stick on this.