Women are to blame for bringing an end to marriage. The evidence is fairly straightforward; spending more time in school, and earning higher incomes, made women angry and that “pissed off” men; so pissed off, in fact, that they have decided to never marry. Ever.
According to an article by Suzanne Venker posted yesterday, proof of this argument can be found in a Pew Research Center report that finds that compared to 1997, men between the ages of 18 to 34 years old now place a lower priority on marriage while women of the same age now place a higher priority on marriage.
Never mind that women started to become educated at higher rates than men in the late 1980’s and that the same Pew Research report finds that among the total working age population, men and women place an equal priority on marriage that is unchanged since 1997.
I respect the use of data in an argument, so I took a look on my own and the evidence does lend some credence to claim that women are to blame for the falling marriage rates, but for an entirely different reason than Suzanne Venker suggests.
The educational gender divide that started to develop over twenty-five years ago has turned into a yawning chasm in recent years. According to the 2011 census, 63% of women between the ages of 25 and 35 have some education beyond the high-school level compared to only 52% of men. That is a big increase from just ten years ago when the educational gap was a mere 7%.
If younger men are turning away from marriage because they do not want to marry economically empowered women, then we would expect that more educated women are less likely to marry. And yet, according to the 2011 US Census women between the ages of 25 and 35 with a college degree are no more likely to be single than are less-educated women; about 41% of women in both groups have never married.
This evidence is telling given that college-educated women tend to marry later in life and that they face a shrinking pool of equally well-educated marriage partners.
On the other hand, education plays a much more important role in whether or not men in this 25 to 35 year old group have remained single; 53% of men without a college degree have never married compared to 48.5% of men with a college degree.
The gap in overall marriage rates between younger men and women does not reflect a difference in preference for marriage between men and women, but rather the fact that the median age at which men marry is about two years older than for women.
So how are women responsible for the decline in marriage if not because we have become intolerable bitches? It is because we have been persistently reluctant to take over in the family and continue to harbor this notion that a suitable husband is at least as well educated as ourselves.
According to the US census, while many younger women do have relationships with less educated men, those that are living with their current as the breadwinner partner are 15% less likely to be legally married to him if she has a college education and he does not.
The marriage market is not in equilibrium; on that we agree. But while Suzanne Venker seems to believe that the economic forces that brought us to where we are today can be undone by asking half the population to surrender to their feminine nature, I believe we are on a path to an entirely new set of social norms when it comes to marriage. When we reach the new that equilibrium, which we inevitably will, the notion that women need to be less educated than their husbands will be in the trash heap along with old ideas about inter-racial and same-sex marriage.