I really enjoy seeing the word “fittingly” in other contexts, especially really macho context such as “The Globalization of Organized┬áViolence.”

So the other day, I was talking to my professor about spousal hire (completely spontaneous, I am not looking to hire my spouse nor do I have one). When we strayed a bit, she told me this very interesting fact: In the 1950s, the gap in spousal education level was large, but income disparity was low. Now, the opposite is true: the gap in spousal education level has decreased while the gap in income disparity is widening. Of course they are not completely┬ácausal, but the correlation does leave some room for thought.┬áMaybe in the 50s, the smart wo/men were more spread out and thus, spread out the wealth benefits. Now, “highly educated” (I say that in quote to not be completely condescending) people are marrying other highly educated people and the wealth has been concentrated to smaller groups. Do you think that’s a problem?

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Comments ( 7 )

perhaps it has more to do with work ethics (I’d say particularly in Generation X). When its harder to get a job, you work harder. When everyone has a degree and everyone is hiring, who the hell cares if you need to work (as long as your spouse is bringing in some dough). They say that Generation X has the worst work ethic in our nation’s history. I would attribute it to that more than anything else.

Patricia added these pithy words on Mar 13 09 at 1:25 pm

Hm, I hadn’t thought about it that way — excess supply and laziness? I do agree that it is a generational thing since women are more educated now, hence the smaller gap in spousal education level. Since people are meeting their significant others while schooling versus … however people met and woo’d each other back then, may be another reason. I’m not sure!

Millie added these pithy words on Mar 13 09 at 1:37 pm


I’m glad you’re not a sociologist, Millie.

P.S. I will email you soon :)

Zuodi Liao added these pithy words on Mar 13 09 at 11:36 pm

Oh Zuodi. Just e-mail me soon pls.

Millie added these pithy words on Mar 14 09 at 12:33 am

about the low income disparity, I think it’s important to consider that the 1950’s were a time when female employment and thus incomes were higher than previous periods thanks to the exodus of male labor during WWII, so income disparity would naturally be abnormally low. Women, never having had incomes, and incomes being lower then, were closer to men in income just by being employed for the first time.

It’s weird because outside of marriage, income disparity by sexes is falling. I also wonder if the link between education and income is as strong as your professor’s implying. Education can explain income but only to a point – beyond the jump from a hourly job to a salaried job, other factors are more important.

Also, sociologically a lot was different back then. Maybe education wasn’t particularly valued in a spouse, and this is important in a market standpoint. If there was no demand for educated spouses then the statistic is meaningless. The supply of educated spouses is a lot higher now given rising rates of education in women, and thus if we assume there’s a demand nowadays for that kind of thing, we know it’s being met by the low education disparity. This could also explain the education gap – Assuming now that people demanded educated spouses in 1950’s, they were in relatively lower supply in 1950’s(disparity was higher back then), so thus more unmet demand. Ultimately I think the answer is sociological though.

Frank added these pithy words on Mar 14 09 at 1:22 am

eheh, sorry for the distinct un-pithyness of my commment

Frank added these pithy words on Mar 14 09 at 1:23 am

To clarify, I don’t think it was necessarily that education meant a higher income or that there was a causal relationship at all. I think it was just a correlation in the absolute gap in both spousal education levels and income. I definitely agree that it’s a sociological case rather than a case of economics as we were kind of both thinking of it (supply versus demand).

I was more curious with where to go with that observation — how do you relieve the widening income disparity? Does it have to do with education? Probably not exclusively for sure.

Millie added these pithy words on Mar 14 09 at 12:13 pm

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