Assortative mating for educational level is a widespread phenomenon in Western industrialized societies. However, whether or not the results from Western samples can be generalizable to populations in developing countries in Africa remains to be seen. The present study investigated assortative mating for educational level in parents of public school children (N > 7000) in the Lagos State in Nigeria. Approximately 61.5 % of the parents had spouses at the same level of education. More mothers than fathers married upward in educational level. The assortative mating coefficients for educational level were .52–.61 across respondents’ classes, .51–.62 across six school districts, and .57 (.55–.59) in the total sample. Overall, these results were very similar to the findings from Western or Asian samples, providing evidence to support the robustness of human mating pattern in educational attainment across different cultures and ethnic groups. The present findings should be incorporated in future quantitative and molecular genetic studies on Africans.
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At the time of data collection, I obtained the Lagos statewide exam scores from teachers for a subsample of the present study, which allowed me to compare school performance between students who reported both parents’ educational attainment and those who did not. The Lagos State Ministry of Education gives exams to all public school students on the same days at the end of every term each year. Students’ English and Mathematics exam scores of the second term in 2012 were analyzed as the two subjects were required for all students. Data were available only for a subsample because some teachers refused to release the data for various reasons (e.g., to keep confidentiality of the students, data were not available any more, etc.).On English exam, students who reported both parents educational attainment consistently showed significantly (p < .05) higher mean scores than did those who did not [64.3 (SD = 14.7, N = 2062) vs. 61.7 (SD = 14.8, N = 544) for primary school students; 52.3 (SD = 10.6, N = 1917) vs. 47.2 (SD = 10.0, N = 177) for secondary school students]. On Mathematics exam only the difference in scores among primary school students attained a statistical significance [58.2 (SD = 15.5, N = 2062) vs. 56.6 (SD = 15.1, N = 544)] although secondary school students who reported both parents’ educational level still had higher scores than did those who did not [51.9 (SD = 12.8, N = 1942) vs. 50.4 (SD = 12.4, N = 181)].
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This study was supported by the Pioneer Fund (USA), Charles Darwin Research Institute (USA), and Ulster Institute for Social Research (UK). I would like to thank students who participated in this study and school teachers and principals, and the staff members in the Universal Education Board and the Ministry of Education in the Lagos State who kindly assisted this study. Special thanks are given to research assistants including Francis Annie Nero, Funmi Nutayi, Hammed Balogun, and Johnson Lawal.
Conflict of interest
The author has no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights and informed consent
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Health Research and Ethics Committee. Informed consent was obtained from participants in the study.
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Hur, Y. Assortative Mating for Educational Level in Parents of Public School Children (N > 7000 Individuals) in the Lagos State, Nigeria. Behav Genet 46, 596–602 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-015-9773-z
- Assortative mating
- Social inequality
- Mate selection