By Ryan Velez
A recent study from the University of Kansas shows that the old concept of social climbing is taking new forms, according to the NY Daily News. The study in question, headed by sociologist ChangHwan Kim, shows that more men are now “marrying up” rather than women due to a significant increase in women who are not only more educated, but also higher-paid than their men.
“The pattern of marriage and its economic consequences have changed over time,” said Kim, who specializes in such subjects as social stratification. “Now women are more likely to get married to a less-educated man.”
The study’s research is based on data from the U.S. Census from 1990 and 2000 and the 2009-11 American Community Survey. For the purposes of this survey, Kim and co-author Arthur Sakamoto, of Texas A&M University, focused on education and earnings of people 35-44 years of age.
Their findings showed that when it comes to people who are highly educated and unmarried, women exceed the amount of men on the market, so to speak. As a result, women are more likely to be with men who are less educated and less paid than them, not out of preference, but out of sheer numbers. How are the men in these situations reacting to this reversal of “bringing home the bacon?” According to Kim, “men don’t complain a lot about this.” He adds that the actual quality of life is dependent on “family income rather than by personal earnings. It seems fine for men because their wife is now bringing more income to the household.”
Kim also notes that this change to hypergamy, wedding someone from higher social strata, shows a change in the way that marriage is perceived, a far departure from its original purpose in antiquity as a way to consolidate families in a way that was more utilitarian than romantic.
“Marriage is now becoming more egalitarian and becoming equal,” Kim said. “If you look at gender dynamics or from a marriage-equality standpoint, that is a really good sign.”
One thing that is an interesting factor to ponder is what it means when you put together these findings with other changes to marriage demographics. For example, more and more millennials are eschewing marriage in favor of domestic partnerships or simply being single. Theories have ranged from financial issues to a fear of divorce, but with so many changes targeting this institution, it is interesting to see what the typical marriage will look like 20 or 30 years from now.