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An Empirical Response to the “War on Men”

November 28, 2012

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.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Sam  On 28 November, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Marina,

    “When we reach the new that equilibrium, which we inevitably will,”

    why? What is the nature of a marriage equilibrium in your understanding? Because I don’t think there ever was a marriage equilibrium at any time in written human history, possibly apart from the mid-20th century, and even then two world wars implied major shocks to the marriagble male population in the West. What about other cultures? We are certainly on our way to a different set of accepted rules about partnership and cohabitation, and the notion of family, but I don’t think that implies there’s going to be an equilibrium.

    • M. Adshade  On 28 November, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      My understanding of an equilibrium in the marriage market would be when the supply is equal to the demand — there are no surplus marriage partners. If educated women only ever seek out educated men as marriage partners then there will necessarily be a surplus of educated women on the marriage market since they greatly outnumber educated men (this problem, by the way, is even worse if men are willing to marry women with less education than themselves). There is only really a few ways to reach an equilibrium. One way is that women revise their expectations and search on the larger market. An other is to withdraw from the market all together and remain single, which is what many women have done. Equilibrium is inevitable, or at least a movement towards an equilibrium is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that after that point nothing will ever change on the market.

      • Sam  On 28 November, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        Well, there’s also persistent market failures, like unemployment, unless you’re living in a Walrasian paradigm, which I don’t think you are ;). Kidding aside, even assuming a trend towards an equilibrium, there’s a very real potential in enormours differences of utility in different potential equilibriums. “Withdrawing” is probably the worst possible outcome for any individual. So the question really becomes whether our own mating preferences are sufficiently adaptive, or if the continuing disequilibrium will force another shift in the social environment more accommodating to these preferences? That’s a very disturbing thought, but it’s certainly one possibility that arises out of this.

        • M. Adshade  On 28 November, 2012 at 8:39 pm

          I think it is interesting that you think that withdrawing is the worst outcome, since that is exactly what Suzanne Venker his arguing that men have done en masse.

          You are right that some equilibriums might be Pareto optimal, and other not. I forgot one possible change that would bring about not a new equilibrium but rather a return to the old equilibrium — men spending more time in school. That actually seems to me to the most obvious, but young men don’t seem to take their marriage market prospects into consideration when deciding what to do when they finish high school. Sure that would be better not only for the individual but society as a whole.

          Are you sure we haven’t already seen a shift in the social environment? What about women starting their own families sans husband?

  • The Private Man  On 28 November, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    “One way is that women revise their expectations and search on the larger market.”

    That will never happen because of the general “never settle!” message sent to single women. It’s a variation of “Prince Charming is right around the corner”.

    Clever men can get their sexual desires met without commitment.

    Consider how hypergamy, casual sex, and the (swiftly-growing) pickup artistry community all come together.

  • Julie  On 29 November, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Pssst…”So how are women responsible for the decline in marriage if not because we have **been come** intolerable bitches? ”

    (fix your typo, this is my favorite line!)

    • M. Adshade  On 29 November, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks! I am missing having an editor!

  • Brandon DG  On 30 November, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Young educated women seem to have backed themselves into a corner. As a man I don’t mind marrying a less educated woman, or a younger woman, or an unemployed woman, but for most educated women this is unacceptable.

    Many young educated women wait for a ‘good’ man until their mid thirties, by which time their biological clock is running out and every single educated man is viewed as a potential future father for their children. These women can’t afford to waste time so they usually get to the point quickly or move on. They want to get married and have children, quickly.

    I am very aware of this, but I want to find a woman who likes me for more than just my testicles. Making a wrong choice could lock me into a bad situation for a long time, so I need a way to distinguish women who genuinely like me from those who just want my sperm. The simplest way to do this is with time. It’s a blunt instrument because some women who may genuinely like me will move on, but at least I won’t end up as a sperm donor + sponsor.

    In any case, the type of women who rejected me in my twenties now face a tough reality, and they don’t like being reminded of it ;-)

  • Z  On 30 November, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Men who are angry and resentful toward women usually make themselves pretty obvious. They are best to be avoided by ALL women- I pity the lady who ends up with one.

    • JameK  On 17 April, 2013 at 4:58 am

      I laughed at this post, because it is the most honest here both intellectually and especially emotionally. I found Marina Adshade’s “academic” analysis of marriage highly tendentious and her using supposed economic analysis as a rubric for concluding what she more hopes will be realized vicariously by other women instead of what actually is. The male side of thinking on this issue is entirely missing. I’m older now (36) and worked mostly blue collar jobs after having to first drop out of college in my very early twenties because of financial reasons. When I was 30, I had over $300 grand saved, went back to college on scholarship, finished in two years and then went one after a year internship to finish a masters. The girl’s who wouldn’t give me the time of day in my 20’s and my age today are mostly divorced, never married, or unhappy in their relationships. I’m just not interested in women my age who have this time-pressuring agenda and thinking about either me being a breadwinner or sperm donor. I want an actual partner. My whole goal in life was to have a good career and work toward something I was passionate about and to better myself. As a man, I never was “on the clock” and kept that goal in mind, to finish my degree and get to where I now am. I agree, I wouldn’t risk being locked down by someone who is thinking with her clock and not her heart or mind. Best to date a woman in early late 20’s, who has a degree and feels the same way about her passion and support that. My girl (now 31) will probably end up making more than me in the long run (a patent lawyer) and she’s not in a rush to have kids–yet. :) I think the moral is the economics of how impractical it is to get an education (i.e. because of the high cost), men have delayed what traditionally came sooner. Men are the ones who always married up–in terms not economical–but emotional. Women are the ones that are practical minded this way, and men intuitively know that. Interestingly, the more educated the woman, I find her often marrying down–economically. I don’t think that is a coincidence nor do I buy at all the supposed reasons Marina Adshade is mindlessly preferring on us. Marriage doesn’t need reforming; the educational system does. Make it truly affordable, so people can get on with their lives sooner in life.

      • Samantha  On 30 April, 2013 at 9:25 pm

        Read this earlier and after a few hours of wainlkg the dog and doing chores around the house, have come to the surprising conclusion that this is an oddly complicated thing to start thinking about. Not about forced changes. That is almost sad. When I got married I was eager for my wife, a PhD candidate at the time, not to take my name and squander whatever name recognition she had built up. But the broader question about what to do about names As she said there is organizational and family value in having a single name and identity. But are we too caught up on that? I have friends, each divorced with kids, who married each other and have kids with three last names in the household. They seem happy enough. And it is hard to think of a good one-name solution.Hyphens are a clunky solution that just don’t work, not over time anyway. What happens when two kids from hyphenated families get married? Three hyphens? The makeshift solution is for a woman to have a family name and a professional name. That isn’t fair, but it is accepted and so will likely continue on. Because absent something new like perhaps creating a new word by blending the two family names, there isn’t a good solution.

  • carlo  On 12 January, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    women who show contempt towards make make themselves obvious as man hating. Men should avoid such women.