Revisiting Horizontal Stratification in Higher Education: College Prestige Hierarchy and Educational Assortative Mating in China
Abstract Existing research on assortative mating has examined marriage between people with different levels of education, yet heterogeneity in educational assortative mating outcomes of college graduates has been mostly ignored. Using data from the 2010 Chinese Family Panel Study and log-multiplicative models, this study examines the changing structure and association of husbands' and wives' educational attainment between 1980 and 2010, a period in which Chinese higher education experienced rapid expansion and stratification. Results show that the graduates of first-tier institutions are less likely than graduates of lower-ranked colleges to marry someone without a college degree. Moreover, from 1980 to 2010, female first-tier-college graduates were increasingly more likely to marry people who graduated from similarly prestigious colleges, although there is insufficient evidence to draw the same conclusion about their male counterparts. This study thus demonstrates the extent of heterogeneity in educational assortative mating patterns among college graduates and the tendency for elite college graduates to marry within the educational elite.