Hypergamy is the act or practice of seeking a spouse of higher socioeconomic status.

According to Wikipedia:

Some evolutionary psychologists believe that women exhibit mate-selective preferences for spouses who are greater than them in terms of attained physical attractiveness, educational level, job status, social standing, and capital accumulation.

Is there any research to support the belief that women are more disposed to hypergamous behavior than men?

For purposes of narrowing the scope of the claim, let's focus on women living in any first-world nation, although any of the categories of preferences listed above (physical attractiveness, educational level, job status, social standing, and/or capital accumulation) would be acceptable.

  • 1
    The claim made here is backed by references to a peer-reviewed study and a Times article. Moreover, another peer-reviewed study is shared, which shows there is no statistical indication that any gender tends to marry up. I'm not sure what you're skeptical of. Read the peer-reviewed studies and draw the right conclusion.
    – Borror0
    Mar 1, 2012 at 19:27
  • @Borror0 I missed the first study, but discounted the Times article as it was merely an anthology of stories shared by prominent female authors. However, that study I missed seems to indicate there are statistical indication that females tend to marry up, which is in direct contraction to the claim in the other study (the full text of which is behind a paywall). Giving the contradicting messages, and the small sample size of the one positive study, I'd like to see if there are more thorough and modern studies that indicate a positive gender correlation.
    – Beofett
    Mar 1, 2012 at 19:57
  • 12
    Not an answer, more a caveat: If you accept that women tend to be poorer than men, then a random (heterosexual) pairing is more likely to have the woman being poorer one in the couple - without any need for societal or genetic pressure. I'm not dismissing the claim, just explaining it must be examined carefully due to confounding issues.
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 2, 2012 at 3:05
  • 1
    @DVK: (1) That makes the question worse! If we define "levels" to be based on attractiveness as a partner, then by definition, people want partners at a higher level. (2) Women are as rich as men, in any country? I'll take that bet.
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 5, 2012 at 11:49
  • 3
    Here is the problem. I would say that I married up with my wife. My wife also says that she married up. And the thing is we are both right because the criteria is subjective. Together we have been far more successful than either one of us expected to be alone. We have helped each other cross over into social groups we did not feel comfortable in alone before. And the thing is we met each other and both thought that the other was far more attractive (at least that is what she tells me).
    – Chad
    Mar 5, 2012 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Actually it might be the opposite for USA in contrast to Australia.

Immigration and Status Exchange in Australia and the United States

Kate H. Choi,* Marta Tienda, Deborah Cobb-Clark, and Mathias Sinning

Princeton University

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Shows, in USA: Homogamy > Hypogamy > Hypergamy in Australia: Homogamy > Hypergamy > Hypogamy

  • not very clear. What is being compared between husband and wife here? Wealth? What does it mean by hypergamy?
    – user4951
    Sep 13, 2018 at 7:10

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