The reversal of the gender gap in education and its consequences for family life

Jan Van Bavel, Christine R. Schwartz, Albert Esteve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Copyright © 2018 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Although men tended to receive more education than women in the past, the gender gap in education has reversed in recent decades in most Western and many non-Western countries. We review the literature about the implications for union formation, assortative mating, the division of paid and unpaid work, and union stability in Western countries. The bulk of the evidence points to a narrowing of gender differences in mate preferences and declining aversion to female status-dominant relationships. Couples in which wives have more education than their husbands now outnumber those in which husbands have more. Although such marriages were more unstable in the past, existing studies indicate that this is no longer true. In addition, recent studies show less evidence of gender display in housework when wives have higher status than their husbands. Despite these shifts, other research documents the continuing influence of the breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-360
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2018


  • assortative mating
  • divorce
  • education
  • family
  • gender
  • marriage


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