According to an analysis for the Institute for Family Studies, men are increasingly “marrying up” in terms of their bride’s education level, that also finds that may not mean the woman makes more money than her husband.
Institute director of research Wendy Wang used data from the census and the American Community Survey to track a shift that began in 1990 when the portion of men who were better educated than their spouses started to drop. This is about the same time, young women started attending and graduating from college at higher rates than young men.
In 2015, 32 percent of women who married had a spouse whose education level was lower than hers which depicts just 1 in 5 newlywed men married a woman with less education. That’s a contrast to 1960, when the man was better educated in nearly 4 of 5 couples.
Back in 1960, the share of couples who were both college grads was just 2 percent, now up to 9 percent. Now, too, 6 percent of couples both have graduate degrees. However who makes the money is a different story.
In 2015 the analysis shows that, 73 percent of men out-earned their spouse, down from 91 percent in 1960. Meanwhile, across those same decades, the share of women who out-earned their husbands grew from 6 percent to 25 percent.
In 2015 Wang found that 60 percent of men with less education than their wives earned more than their wives and in couples where the husband is better educated or equally educated, the proportion of men who out-earn their wives is even greater.
According to Wang, part of it is a gender pay gap but other factors are also at play. Her research shows never-married women seeking a spouse look for “someone with a steady job and financial security, so there’s still this kind of traditional view of what is an ideal partner. … In a sense, income compensates for less education.” Men, on the other hand, seek matching ideas about raising a family.
In determining who married up or down or straight across, education levels were compared between spouses in four categories: high school or less, some college, college graduate or advanced degrees.
Wang also notes that in this analysis “men benefit more from women’s progress in the workplace and in education” because overall income is higher.
Marriage trends have been shifting for some time. In the past, studies found some women would rather not marry at all than marry someone with less education — especially college-educated women.
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