The perils of Lee and his theory on assortative mating

27 Oct

After Lee was quoted in a broadcast news report that he believed assortative mating will produce beneficial result, I was eager to do some research to find out how persuasive this argument is. According to the senior statesman of Singapore, ‘… especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you worry about whether or not your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!’. In short, he means that if one of the person in a marriage is a non-graduate, and the other is, then they will have to worry if their kids will be able to enter university.

Such blatant assumptions are not only distasteful but offensive to those who have never been to college; or couples who choose to marry outside their educational background. But even if we are to leave those serious arguments aside, his theory on assortative mating that produces kids with abilities to go to university is groundless.

More importantly, the quality of a marriage is hardly dependent on educational qualifications. For example, according to Luo & Klohnen, ‘positive associations between similarity and marital quality for personality-related domains but not for attitude-related domains’ or that ‘similarity on attachment characteristics were most strongly predictive of satisfaction’ (2005, p.304).

Others asserted that assortative mating may even be contributing to social inequality. This was documented by Raquel Fernandez and Richard Roger who found that high earners marrying high earners and low earners marrying low earners will significantly increase income inequality in society. This was also discovered by Gary Burtless at the Brookings Institution who found that ‘a rising correlation of hushband-wife earnings accounted for 13% of the considerable growth in economic inequality between 1979 and 1996’ (Paul 2006,p. 22-23).

Another study claims that there is ‘weak support for the hypothesis that assortative mating improves off-spring well being’ (Godoy et. al 2008, p. 201).

The point of debating about the merits of assortative marriage needs to be understood in the context that marriage is a personal affair between the parties involved. While Lee’s suggestion is so ludicrous that most people would not believe it, it is even curious to find out where he got them from.


Works Cited

Luo, S & Klohnen, E. C 2005, ‘Assortative Mating and Marital Quality in Newlyweds: A Couple-Centered Approach’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 88, No. 2, pp. 304 –326.

Paul, A. M 2006, ‘The Real Marriage Penalty’, New York Times Magazine, 19 November, pp. 22 – 23.

Godoy a, R 2008, ‘Assortative mating and offspring well-being: theory and empirical findings from a native Amazonian society in Bolivia’, Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol. 29, pp. 201 – 210.


3 Responses to “The perils of Lee and his theory on assortative mating”

  1. Roger October 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    Most of what Lee says is ludicrous. Also the fact he is a a senile old lawyer makes what he says even less curious.

  2. tiger4 October 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    No one dares to challenge the old geezer for no one wants to go bankrupt from defamation suits. That’s why he can talk all these rubbish and still laugh.

  3. Desmond October 29, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    I really want to ask Mr. Lee. According to his statement, graduate parents don’t worry about their children making it to University? Meaning that children of graduates get a free pass to Universities regardless of whether they do well or not. So their parents never have to worry?

    WHAT BULLSHIT! Name me a parent, graduate or otherwise that doesn’t worry whether their children will make it to and through University and I’ll tell you a way to stop global warming.

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