Monday, February 04, 2019

Assortative Mating and Increasing Inequality

A thought on inequality, based in part on a point in The Bell Curve.

The authors argue that one effect of a meritocratic system is an increase in assortative mating. It occurs to me that the same effect would be expected from any change that increased the range over which individuals sought mates. The girl in your village who makes the best fit with you is likely to fit less well than the girl in your city who makes the best fit. As population becomes more concentrated, transport and communication better, the result should be a greater pairing of like with like.

That assumes, in the context of intelligence, that smart men want to marry smart women and vice versa. I have just been listening to an audiobook of Heinlen’s Podkayne of Mars, in which it is assumed, by the viewpoint character and presumably the author, that men don’t want to marry smart women, hence that smart women find it prudent to conceal their intelligence. If true, that might reduce or eliminate the effect.

If my line of argument is correct, it provides an explanation of increasing economic inequality, since assortative mating should result in widening the spread of whatever characteristics are being sorted on, and some, such as IQ, are relevant to income.

The Flynn effect is a gradual increase in mean IQ. Has anyone looked at whether variance is also increasing?


Nathan Taylor said...

paper on assortive mating and inequality. There's a literature on it

Nathan Taylor said...

Tyler Cownen comments here

Perry E. Metzger said...

I suspect that there are many mating strategies out there, and that many men want smart wives.

Ricardo Cruz said...

Perry, I think what is being discussed is the trend.

Anonymous said...

This is also a topic of Charles Murray's later book Coming Apart, his cogitations on a huge expansion in class divisisions in white America (created by assortive mating).

Unfortunately I haven't read it so I can't say how well he argues his case.