America is facing a significant shortage of highly educated “economically attractive” unmarried men who earn at least $53,000 and have a college degree. And the situation could result in unmarried women remaining unmarried or marrying less well-suited partners, a study says.
That’s the conclusion reached by researchers Daniel T. Lichter of Cornell University, Joseph P. Price of Brigham Young University, and Jeffrey M. Swigert of Southern Utah University in their study, Mismatches in the Marriage Market, published this month in the Journal of Family and Marriage.
The results of the study were based on comparisons between real data on unmarried men and a synthetic profile of the ideal husband that the average unmarried woman desired, created from marriage data from 2008 to 2012 and 2013 to 2017 recorded in the American Community Survey.
“These synthetic husbands have an average income that is about 58% higher than actual unmarried men who are currently available to unmarried women. They also are 30% more likely to be employed (90% vs. 70%) and 19% more likely to have a college degree (30% vs. 25%),” the study says.
“Our analyses provide clear evidence of an excess supply of men with low income and education and, conversely, shortages of economically attractive unmarried men (with at least a bachelor’s degree and higher levels of income) for women to marry. One implication is that promoting good jobs may ultimately be the best marriage promotion policy rather than marriage education courses that teach new relationship skills,” the researchers conclude.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday, Price explained that the disparity between the characteristics unmarried women are looking for in a life partner and their available choices in reality have created “a structural mismatch” starkly highlighted in their research.
“The important contribution that our paper made was just to document the structural mismatch and the kind of men on average that women are looking for and the kind of men that are currently available for them,” Price said. “So our best guess among the unmarried women in our sample, they are hoping to marry someone whose average income is $53,000, but if you look at the average income among the potential partners they can choose from, it’s about $35,000. So this $18,000 gap creates a bit of a structural mismatch.”
Challenge of minority women
While all unmarried women face the challenge of finding suitable marriage partners, the study highlights that this challenge is particularly acute for minority women and black women especially. Unmarried Women from both low socioeconomic backgrounds as well as those with high socioeconomic status also have an especially hard time finding suitable partners.
“High rates of incarceration and substantial out-marriage to white women, especially among black men, have also left many minority women without marital partners. The fact that women’s educational levels now exceed men’s further implies that young women—by necessity—are less financially dependent on husbands than in the past and that educational hypogamy has become more commonplace,” the study says.
Among Christian women and those of other faiths where women are expected to marry in order to pursue intimate relationships, Price said there might have to be a cultural shift from hypergamy — where women tend to marry up — to one of hypogamy — where they marry below their standards.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair