“Marriage is now becoming more egalitarian,” says study co-author ChangHwan Kim
The fairer sex is more than pulling its weight.
Men’s likelihood of “marrying up” has increased as women have grown more highly educated and earned more in recent decades, according to a new study published in the journal Demography. What’s more, wives’ increased input to family finances has spurred greater economic well-being for their husbands.
“This could explain why it seems men don’t complain a lot about this,” lead author ChangHwan Kim, a University of Kansas associate professor, said in a statement. “Our answer is that’s true because look at the actual quality of life, which is determined more likely by family income rather than by personal earnings. 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.”
The research, pulling in data on people aged 35 to 44 from the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census and 2009-2011 American Community Survey, saw women boost their educational progress and outpace men in personal earnings.
Women’s high educational attainment exceeding men’s “substantially increased” male likelihood of marrying up over time, as female chances of marrying up decreased, the study found — and even as women’s earnings grew faster than men’s, their financial returns through marriage declined.
“Ironically, married women’s progress in education and personal earnings has led to greater improvement in the family standard of living for married men than for women themselves,” the study authors write.
The findings signal that “marriage is now becoming more egalitarian,” said Kim. “If you look at gender dynamics or from a marriage-equality standpoint, that is a really good sign,” he added.
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