Contextual declines in educational hypergamy and family violence

  • 21 Feb 2018

    15:00-16:30, Clay Room, Nuffield College

  • Sociology Seminar   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Julia Behrmann

Nuffield College

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series.

PLEASE NOTE: this seminar is at the earlier time of 3pm

There was an unprecedented global change in gendered patterns of schooling attainment at the end of the 20th century.  Women’s schooling attainment increased rapidly in both high and low-income countries so that by the end of the century women around the world, on average, had as much or more schooling than men for the first time in history. Changes in the educational distribution led to a global decline in educational hypergamy, or husbands having higher levels of schooling than wives  Given that community context matters for family norms, what are the implications of contextual declines in the prevalence of hypergamy? Are macro-declines in the male educational advantage associated with increases or decreases in intra-familial tension?  I explore this question using a case study from four countries in Eastern Africa: Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.  Consistent with high-income countries, there have been dramatic declines in educational hypergamy in these countries. However, unlike high-income countries, changes in other dimensions of women’s economic, political, and social lives have been more limited.  I argue that declines in men’s educational advantage accompanied by limited changes in women’s status in other domains provide an example of a “cultural lag” (Ogburn 1957), or a situation where one social variable changes more quickly than other related variables.  Exploiting sub-national regional variation in declining hypergamy over a ten-year period, I conduct a multilevel model analysis of the relationship between regional changes in hypergamy and wives’ reports of recent experiences of intimate partner violence (a key measure of intra-familial tension) using Demographic Health Survey data.  I find regional declines in hypergamy are associated with sizeable increases in wives’ reports of recent intimate partner violence, thus enhancing sociological understandings of how contextual changes in gender dynamics are associated with micro-level family outcomes.  

The Sociology Seminar Series is convened by John Ermisch and Federico VareseFor more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact