A Critique of the Status Exchange Theory of Merton and Davis in Mate Assorting
In this paper I reexamine the status exchange hypothesis (Davis 1941; Merton 1941), which argued that minorities exchange their high socioeconomic status for the "high" social status of whites. Specifically, I reanalyze the cross-classification table presented in Fu (2001) on recent marriages among whites, blacks, Mexicans, and Japanese (from the 1990 PUMS data), which claims to corroborate the status exchange hypothesis for intermarriage between whites and blacks as well as between whites and Mexican Americans. Using a simple quasi-symmetry model, I show that the same-race and mixed-race marriage share a broadly similar pattern of educational homogamy, which is quasi-symmetric in character. Thus, I argue that this suggests little, if any, evidence for the status exchange hypothesis. Furthermore, the evidence strongly indicates that there is a remarkable consistency and symmetry in husband/wife educational attainment regardless of race (with the possible exception of white/white marriages); intermarried couples share a similar level of education, and educational homogamy dominates the educational marriages, no matter how strong the racial endogamy is.
Interracial Marriage; Status Exchange Hypothesis; Educational Homogamy; BIC; Practically Lack of Fit
Dissertation or Thesis