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The changing pattern of marriage: ‘Marrying up’ now easier for men

According to a recent study, the number of highly educated women has increased in recent decades, and hence the chances of ‘marrying up’ have improved significantly for men.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 29, 2017 16:35 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Marrying up,Marriage,Changing relationships
As the number of highly educated women has increased in recent decades, the chances of ‘marrying up’ have improved significantly for men.(Shutterstock)

As the number of highly educated women has increased in recent decades, the chances of ‘marrying up’ have improved significantly for men, according to a US study.

“The pattern of marriage and its economic consequences have changed over time,” said ChangHwan Kim, associate professor at University of Kansas in the US. “Now women are more likely to get married to a less- educated man. What is the consequence of this?” said Kim, lead author of the study published in the journal Demography. Researchers examined gender-specific changes in the total financial return to education among people of prime working ages, 35 to 44 years old, using US Census data from 1990 and 2000 and the 2009-2011 American Community Survey.

They investigated the return to education not only in labour markets but also in the marriage market. “Previously, women received more total financial return to education than men, because their return in the marriage market was high. “However, this female advantage has deteriorated over time despite women’s substantial progress in education and labour-market performance,” Kim said. The researchers found the overall net advantage of being female in terms of family-standard-of-living decreased about 13 % between 1990 and 2009-2011.

Women’s personal earnings have grown faster than men’s earnings during this time as women have increased their education and experienced a greater return on education. However, the number of highly educated women exceeds the number of highly educated men in the marriage market, the researchers found. Women are more likely to be married to a less-educated man.

Because of the combined facts that husbands are less educated than their wives than before, and the return on earnings for men has stagnated, a husband’s contribution to family income has decreased. On the other hand, wives’ contribution to family income has substantially increased.

This has led to a faster improvement of the family standard of living for men than for equally educated women themselves, Kim said, and helped converge the gap in equivalised income between wives and husbands. “This could explain why it seems men do not complain a lot about this. Our answer is that is true because look at the actual quality of life, which is determined more likely by family income rather than by personal earnings,” Kim said. “It seems fine for men because their wife is now bringing more income to the household. One implication of these findings is that the importance of marriage market has increased for men’s total economic well-being,” Kim added.

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First Published: Aug 29, 2017 16:34 IST