Many women these days are "marrying down" rather than "marrying up" or, in other words, they opt for husbands from their own social class or lower, a new British study of marriages by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has found.
The research, which had been carried out for the last 40 years and analyzed how women's aspirations have been changing throughout decades, came to the conclusion that men with lower incomes are preferred by modern brides to wealthy guys from higher social classes. This kind of shift in marriage patterns over the past years is attributed, in part, to women's advances in their careers.
According to the recent statistical data, 52 per cent of women with the ages between 17 and 30 years, completed higher education, when compared to 42 per cent of men. Also, women's higher qualifications are eventually making a difference to their pay packets as a result of which an increasing number of brides have economic resources to marry a guy who makes less money than them.
The IPPR report looked at women who were born in different generations: in 1958, 1970 and between 1976 and 1981. Of those ladies who were born in 1958, 38 per cent reported marrying a man with a higher status, while more than a third opted for a husband from a similar class. Only 23 per cent of women married somebody from a lower background. However, for the ladies who were born in 1970, there was already a noticeable shift, with a number of women "marrying up" dropping by five per cent to 33 per cent, whereas 45 per cent had chosen a husband with the same status. The study found that only 16 per cent of women who were born between 1976 and 1981 married someone from a higher social class. Meanwhile, 28 per cent of the same generation women chose a partner from a lower class.
According to the IPPR report, one reason for this kind of shift in marriage patterns is the changing jobs market since the World War II. In the 50s and 60s, deindustrialization and the increasing number of women who had junior office jobs led to a trend of "marrying the boss." But in the 80s, with the growth of inequality and with losses of blue-collar and middle-tier jobs, education became very important and very closely linked to occupation. As a result, social class started to tighten its grasp on who people met and eventually got married to.
Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, was quoted as saying that the new research demonstrates how social class and status has hardened its grip on marriage, and particularly in Britain. The marital landscape these days is drastically different from that which prevailed in the postwar period, when women were more likely to marry gentlemen who were both older and with a higher social status, Mr. Pearce said. The new analysis also revealed that more women of the modern generation are choosing husbands who are three or more years older, with the largest increase shown in those who choose partners seven or more years older, who account for 20 per cent of the new generation of married ladies.
The experts said that their investigation was very important to understand modern society because, if more people marry someone from their own class and with their own social status, wider income inequalities are exacerbated. According to the IPPR, this trend will also result in increased rates of child poverty. When rich people marry each other, they are able to invest more time and finances on the development of their kids.