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Marriage Squeeze

The Mating Gradient

In choosing a marriage partner, the first requisite is homogamy. However, within those limits, it is almost universally accepted that hypergamy, a situation in which the woman marries up, is more common and more acceptable that hypogamy, a situation in which the woman marries down. Both husband and wife are most comfortable when the husband has higher status than the wife. The cultural preference for hypergamy results in a mating gradient: women prefer men who are of equal or higher status than themselves, and men prefer women who are of equal or lower status than themselves. The result is that two categories of people tend to be squeezed out of the marriage market: high status women and low status men.

The mating gradient is apparent in terms of height and weight. Tall women have trouble finding even taller men, and short men have trouble finding even shorter women. In more general terms, the mating gradient means that when men increase in status, they widen their pool of eligibles; when women increase in status, their pool of eligibles becomes narrower, leading to an exacerbation of the female marriage squeeze.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsMarriage Squeeze - Social Dimensions Of The Pool Of Eligibles, The Mating Gradient, Sex Ratios: Measuring The Marriage Squeeze