Separate and Unequal Mating Markets

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Room for Debate blog, New York Times, 1/14/2010

For non-college women, marriage is becoming the exception rather than the rule. Their mating pool consists mainly of non-college men. And noncollege men are not attractive as prospective husbands for reasons that are already familiar. Their ability to support a wife and family has been declining for more than three decades, and public policies have done little to reverse this. Moreover, these men may be increasingly reluctant to take on the commitment to marry in the first place.

Read the Article >>

Subjects: Family, Marriage

More by: Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

The Pew report sheds light on what is happening in two separate and unequal mating markets: the mating market for college-educated women and the mating market for noncollege women. Virtually all of the media attention thus far has focused on what the report tells us about college women. But the more important story is what's going on with noncollege women.

It is certainly true that the percentage of young women with a college degree now exceeds the percentage of young men with a college degree. Some of these women are marrying down the educational ladder. Nevertheless, the fact remains that college-educated women are only a minority of all younger women, and of course, college educated men are an even smaller minority of all younger men. Thus, of these two mating markets, the one that holds the much larger share of the younger generation is the noncollege market.

For non-college women, marriage is becoming the exception rather than the rule. Their mating pool consists mainly of non-college men. And noncollege men are not attractive as prospective husbands for reasons that are already familiar. Their ability to support a wife and family has been declining for more than three decades, and public policies have done little to reverse this. Moreover, these men may be increasingly reluctant to take on the commitment to marry in the first place.

The ability to marry and stay married is a source of economic advantage. However, as the report demonstrates, this advantage has been moving beyond the reach of the nation's non-college majority.

This article originally appeared here.

Follow

Institute for American Values, 420 Lexington Avenue, Room 1706, New York, NY 10170

212.246.3942