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Education Can Boost Women's Chances of Getting Married




By Margarita Nahapetyan

NYU Sociologists Paula England and Jonathan Bearak claim that college-educated ladies these days are as likely to get married as their less educated counterparts, even if the nuptials happen at an older age.

A new report, which has been prepared for the Council on Contemporary families and is based on a national sample of people who were born between 1958 and 1965, contradicts previously dominating idea that women who went on with their education after high school were more likely to postpone finding a second half past some stereotypical "marriageable age" while climbing up a career ladder. According to the new findings, as late as in 1950, white college-educated women were 15 per cent less likely than their high-school graduate peers to get married before they turned 40. By 2010, economist Betsey Stevenson had revealed that the "marriage gap" dropped to just 2 per cent, and now the well-educated ladies have caught up with those who did not pursue further education and even surpassed them in the percent that have married. In other words, the gap is closed entirely.

England and Bearak found that 75 per cent of women who hold college diplomas are married at age 40, when compared to 70 per cent of high school graduates and about 60 per cent of high school dropouts. When it comes to gentlemen, here the gap is bigger: at the age of 40 years, about 75 per cent of male college graduates are being married compared to about 50 per cent of their high school dropout peers.

In terms of race, the postponed marriage boost produced by higher education is far more pronounced for black ladies than for whites. While African American women have lower chances of ever getting married when compared to white women, completing a college or graduating from a University increases ultimate marriage rates by age 30 and 40 much more substantially for black women when compared to whites. Black women who drop out of a high school have far less chances to get married than any other group. The "marriage gap" increases for black men as well, with 70 per cent of educated black men being married by age 40 and just 30 per cent of those without a high school diploma having a family.

The findings also demonstrated that women with education, or those who get married at an older age, are less likely to get divorced, owing in part to the fact that getting married young is associated with an increased likelihood of split up. Past studies regarding education and divorce produced mixed results, with one research claiming that women with the best education were at the lowest risk of getting divorced, and another finding that there is a more complex connection between the two. However, England and Bearak state that individuals with less education, and especially men, split up at higher rates over their lifetime course.

According to England, this happens, in part because higher educated people are likely to have better jobs, earn more money, and that being financially secure can smooth over some conflicts in the family. Also, educated men tend to be more liberal and more egalitarian towards their partners, England added, explaining that educated husbands are more likely to treat their wives like equals which might, in turn, make wives stay married to them.

The new research also hints at how education affects women's overall happiness. Stephanie Coontz, history and family studies professor and director of CCF's research and public education, said in a statement that in regards of women's actual happiness, divorce rates could be even more important than marriage rates. She further explained that women in their 50s who have never been married feel almost as happy as women in happy marriages, and these groups are much happier than divorced ladies.



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