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Men more likely to ‘marry up’ as women become more highly educated

In a new study out of the University of Kansas, women are more likely to marry a less-educated man and bring more money to the relationship.

“As the number of highly educated women has increased in recent decades, the chances of ‘marrying up’ have increased significantly for men and decreased for women,” the study reports.

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To gather their results, the researchers examined gender-specific changes in financial return on education among people 35-44 years old. The study used U.S. census data from 1990 and 2000 and the 2009-2011 American Community Survey.

The study found that women’s personal earnings have grown faster than men’s earnings, and that women are becoming more educated than men. These “combined facts that husbands are less educated than their wives than before, and the return on earnings for men has stagnated, a husband’s contribution to family income has decreased. On the other hand, wives’ contribution to family income has substantially increased,” the University of Kansas reports.

“This could explain why it seems men don’t complain a lot about this,” lead author ChangHwan Kim, associate professor of sociology, said. “It seems fine for men because their wife is now bringing more income to the household.”

According to the findings, marriage is becoming more equal between the genders.

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“If you look at gender dynamics or from a marriage-equality standpoint, that is a really good sign,” Kim said.

However, there is one part of the family that is benefitting more than the other, Kim points out.

“When we consider family dynamics,” Kim said, “men are getting the benefit from women’s progress.”

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