, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 2209–2225 | Cite as

The Impact of Educational Homogamy on Isolated Illiteracy Levels

  • Iñaki PermanyerEmail author
  • Joan García
  • Albert Esteve


In this article, we explore the impacts that education expansion and increased levels in educational homogamy have had on couples’ isolated illiteracy rates, defined as the proportion of illiterates in union that are married to an illiterate partner. First, we develop the methodology to decompose isolated illiteracy rates into two main components: one related to level of homogamy among illiterates, and the other related to the educational distribution of the spouses. Second, we use harmonized international census microdata from IPUMS and DHS data for 73 countries and 217 samples to investigate which of the two components is more important in shaping the level of isolated illiteracy. Our results indicate that the expansion of literacy has been more powerful than the increases in the tendency toward homogamy in its impact on isolated illiteracy rates. As the percentage of illiterates decreases over time, an increasingly large proportion of them marry literate individuals, showing that opportunities for intermarriage among illiterates expand despite the strengthening of homogamy.


Isolated illiteracy Educational expansion Educational homogamy IPUMS Demographic and Health Surveys 



This research is part of the European Research Council’s WORLDFAM project (ERC-2009-StG-240978) and research project CSO2011-24544. Iñaki Permanyer gratefully acknowledges support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy “Juan de la Cierva” Research Grant Program and research project ECO2010-21668-C03-02.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Estudis DemogràficsCampus de la Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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