Volume 48 - Article 18 | Pages 483–512  

Differences in occupational homogamy by race, ethnicity, and national origin: A social mobility strategy for Asian Americans

By Kate Choi, Yue Qian


Background: Rising median age at marriage and increasing lifestyle differentials across occupations suggest that occupations increasingly offer important signals of the economic and cultural resources of potential spouses. Scant attention has been paid to occupational assortative mating in recent years. Rarer are studies about racial, ethnic, and nationality differences in occupational homogamy rates.

Objective: We document variations in occupational homogamy rates by race, ethnicity, and national origin and identify factors contributing to group differences in occupational homogamy rates.

Methods: Using data from the 2006 and 2008–2019 American Community Survey, we compared occupational homogamy rates by race, ethnicity, and nationality. We also used logistic regression models to identify the correlates of occupational homogamy and used Fairlie decomposition models to assess the extent to which individual traits, occupational traits, and place of residence contribute to group differences in occupational homogamy.

Results: Asian American men have higher occupational homogamy rates than non-Asian men. Differences in occupational homogamy rates among Asian national origin groups are greater than group differences among non-Asian men. Among Asian men, Indians have the highest occupational homogamy rates and Koreans have the lowest. Differences in educational attainment and representation in STEM occupations explain a significant portion of group differences in occupational homogamy rates.

Contribution: We reveal that, in addition to educational and occupational attainment, marital sorting on occupation may represent a dimension of “strategic adaptation” in Asian Americans’ social mobility.

Author's Affiliation

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