February 01, 2010

Men and Marriage

new karen 1 By Karen Sternheimer

Once upon a time, marriage was the bedrock of social mobility and economic stability for women. A recent Pew Research report indicates that there has been a major reversal: according to their analysis, men actually benefit financially more from marriage than women do.

But not by much. Pew researchers point out that the median household income for American -born men aged 30-44 increased 61% between 1970 and 2007, compared with 60% for married women of the same age. Unmarried women’s income increased 59% during this time, while unmarried men’s income rose only by 16%.

Pew researchers suggest that:

From an economic perspective, these trends have contributed to a gender role reversal in the gains from marriage. In the past, when relatively few wives worked, marriage enhanced the economic status of women more than that of men. In recent decades, however, the economic gains associated with marriage have been greater for men than for women.

At first, the story seems to be about unmarried men aged 30-44: why have their incomes grown more modestly?


There are two key factors to consider here. In 1970, unmarried men in this age group were the highest earners, so they had started off well ahead of the others. Single men still significantly out earn single women, as you can see in the graph below. What’s happened is that working women’s wages have caught up a bit with men’s. According to U.S. Census data, women earned about 59% of what men earned annually in 1970; in 2008 their earnings rose to 77% of men’s annual wages. Still a big gap, but a smaller gap no less.

Today, married men have the benefit of a partner with stronger earning power compared with 1970, when fewer married women were in the labor force. Both men and women are much more likely to be college educated today compared with 1970, but women now comprise nearly 54% of college graduates, in contrast to just 36% in 1970. This education gap means that a growing number of marriages includes a wife who has more education than her husband, and in some cases a higher income, as the graph below details. While the percentage of wives who earn more than husbands has grown significantly, keep in mind that the vast majority or women in 2007 did not earn more than their husbands.


Note that one thing is remarkably consistent: men and women are very likely to marry someone with levels of education similar to their own. As sociologist Dalton Conley told Time magazine, "High-income women marrying high-income men is one of the drivers of inequality." Conley added that, "This leads to family instability and a cycle of disadvantage," for less educated lower earners, particularly as higher levels of education and income are associated with greater marriage stability.

Basically, the better educated you are the more you earn, and the more likely you are to stay married. This means that education provides a double advantage economically: not only are you likely to earn more, but you are likely to benefit from a working partner. And according to the Pew researchers, college educated women “are more financially desirable as marriage partners.”

But it’s not that single men are “screwed”, as Time magazine’s headline boldly suggests. Single men earn 89 cents on the dollar annually compared with married men, while single women’s annual household income is just 65 percent of married women’s income. Men still earn more than women within every educational category; in fact, one might argue that the greater proportion of women earning bachelor’s degrees is a result of a greater need for credentials for women in the workforce.

If anything, the first graph above serves as a reminder of how single women continue to lag behind their male counterparts. While single women’s income gains might have outshone single men’s in terms of percentage, in actual dollars women still seem to benefit economically from marriage more than men. If we consider that single women with children likely bear additional financial responsibilities, a second income is all the more important.

Sociologist Kathryn Edin has studied this issue for many years, and points out that marriage for low-income single mothers might not hold the economic benefits many presume. She interviewed many women who talked about their desire to get married, but noted that marriage to a low-earning man could mean more financial hardship rather than less. It might sound like a good idea for low income women to find a high earning man, but as the data above reveal, people are highly likely to meet and marry people with similar levels of education. The Cinderella story of a poor woman meeting and marrying a prince might be common in fairy tales, but in reality it is very uncommon. A recent New York Times blog includes a discussion of these and other important points about the realities of marriage today from sociologists and other scholars.

The moral of this story is that higher educational attainment can lead to both higher earnings and a greater likelihood of marital stability. Another good reason to earn your degree!


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>>At first, the story seems to be about unmarried men aged 30-44: why have their incomes grown more modestly?

Because they don't have to support a family, they get to have more leeway to not have to work longer hours / put up with crap / bust their ass for promotion.

I see how your statistivs could show that men benifit more, but I think that marriage is more than just for the money. I think that both men and women benefit equally because money is only part of marriage. You also get a relationship, loving partner, and chidren.

Wow, i never knew that economics and marriage were so closely realted. The part about social classes marringing their own social classes and how this contributes to keeping the gap in classes was very interesting.

a comment i might have on the post called men and marriage, would be that it was reasonably sexist in asserting males to be the only ones who do these things.

I would like to make a comment on the fact that "Sociologist Kathryn Edin has studied this issue for many years, and points out that marriage for low-income single mothers might not hold the economic benefits many presume." This statement makes it seem as if people get married mostly for the money and the economic benefits that come with it. Even though this survey shows whether or not male or female members of a marriage benefit more economically, doesn't take in to account the fact that they may not care. Some people may not even really know the economic status of their partner; and also not everybody gets married simply for the economic aspect of it, some people base it simply off of their love and feelings.

More men go and finish school earlier than women giving them more chance to get experience on the job while most women are busy taking care of most social life activities like marriage.Until when they are stable in marrige they go back to school and finish education and this give them chance to match with their husband's salary.

I believe that two are better than one in most cases but sometimes there are not enough economic benifits to a marriage and thus causing marrital strain. This is especially true of most young couples and perhaps in part why so many marriages simply don't make it. Definitely economics has a close relationship with couples and their daily exsistance.

Yes I think what you said about men benifiting from not being married is deffinetly true. Men can have more money and have more time and make up their own rules but at the end of the day he has nobody to go home to.

I must say that a man with a lower degree in education married to a woman with a higher degree of education can create some instability in a marriage. The man may feel he is not bringing in the most money as society may put it. I can also see why a couple, with both of them having degrees in higher education, marriage could last longer because they really wouldn't have to deal with the financial hardship that lower educated couples do. Economics and marriage are closely related.

The research for this article was interesting in that there were so many different ways to interpret it. I think a key point is that more women get a college degree now than in 1970. Thus women now earn more. The graph still shows a gap, single women earn only 77% of what single men earn. This is despite the fact that women are over 50% of college graduates. Those statistics do not line up if a college degree is supposed to increase income. Does this mean women's majors are for fields that pay less, or is this the glass ceiling (discrimination) effect?

When a man is not as educated as his wife, it can create major problems on a marriage. Some men feel it's their job to "bring home the bacon" and they free powerless or worthless when they don't. Equal education can definitely solve some major problem is a marriage.

Great point. Those that finish their education make more money and avoid financial marital problems.

In my opinion, the blog was very interesting because being a woman in 2010 seems much better than in 1970. I was very intrigued by the fact that marriage can have such a big effect on the amount of money women make in their jobs. Another surprising factor is that marriage helps the woman and man make more money in their jobs. Reading this blog made me realize that the United States is slowly changing in regards to the rights of women. Although, without being married women do make much less than men and married women.


I find it interesting that men benefit financially once mariied to women, howevern yet we still as women make less than a man does.

Although this may come as a surprise to most people, I would have to agree with Karen and her recent studies and say that sociologists would have predicted this would happen even before women were really active in the work force and in receiving a higher education because the women stays home most of the time in general, and takes care of the children, cooks, produces them and makes sure that dinner is on the table, while the man is the one going to work. It would seem that men would “financially” and actually “householdly” benefit from marriages more than women to begin with. More than finance, they receive children bearded by women, food to eat, a clean household and a loving wife to come home to in most, or in hopeful situations. I agree with Karen’s statement also that higher education provides marital stability and that there is a definite correlation. This is a good article and I enjoyed it very much.

I always knew that marriage and economics were very closely related because once you get married both of your incomes come into play. This start to be shared and money is being put together. What I didn't know was that men make more money off of getting married than women. I didn't know that there was money to be made off of getting married. I also didn't know that once people are married they make more money in their jobs. This was a very enlightening blog, and I'm glad I read it.

I see now how different levels of education affect a marriage. However, I can see problems resulting because one partner feels as if they are not carrying their weight because the other person is making a greater amount of the income. I do agree with Justin though. Although men may benefit more financially, men and women benefit equally through the love in their relationship.

I can find this result properly after the marriage .


The blog was very interesting because being a woman in 2010 seems much better than in 1970. I was very intrigued by the fact that marriage can have such a big effect on the amount of money women make in their jobs. Another surprising factor is that marriage helps the woman and man make more money in their jobs.

I know in my situation I gain more by being married than my wife does. I could not have the life I do today without here. Great article

Wow, this is fascinating. It's intriguing to see the correlation between marriage and economics to say the least.



This article brings up the issue of women's power, it seems sad that women have to be married to a man to make more money. Men have so much power over women in most societies. Women earned about 59% of what men earned annually in 1970 and it 2008 that percent rose to 77% which is still a huge gap. To me its ridiculous that the only way for a women to have a chance at making more than a man, is to marry man. Marriage is beneficial to women but even more beneficial to men, its rare that a woman makes more then her man and I hope for change.

The main conclusion that the author came up with involved the link “[…] that higher educational attainment can lead to both higher earnings and a greater likelihood of marital stability.” However, the majority of the comments posted by other readers were unable to see the big picture set forth by the author. Many of the comments seemed to center around the comment that married women make more money than unmarried women, therefore, if a women is going to make it the world, she should get married (and consequently get a raise?)

Although the author did not explicitly make this claim, I think that a more sociologically sound justification for this difference involves the population of women that get married (and stay married) rather than the act of marriage in and of itself. Specifically, it seems that the data points to the fact that perhaps married women make more money that unmarried women because they are more marketable and better educated (or more marketable because of their higher education). These individuals were going to make the same amount of money whether or not they were married, however due to their increased education and social status, they tend to get married more often than poor uneducated women.

It's not really surprising nowadays. There several cases i see almost every week.

I agree with the other comments saying that men finish early in order to earn much money to secure a married life. That is one of the wisest thing to do.
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These type of problem is very common nowadays , so I won't wonder how it increasingly grow. But however, if we will talk about marriage, money must nit be a big matter to be count of, if who benefits more or who has more advantage towards it. Two person involves marriage, so literally they are equally engaged in every single thing between them.

Basically, the better educated you are the more you earn, and the more likely you are to stay married.
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You are very right, women do need to most of the time be married to be able to recieve better pay checks, and over all, as shown, men seem to have more power than women. And sadly that is the way that most societies look at it, and don't get me wrong at all, I have great respect for women, they are what keep the men going every day, and they do so much that some people, specically some guys, don't even notice, but as it goes, men socially have more of a social advantage over women, though women do just as much, for little or no pay. I guess that's sadly just how our society is.

It is very interesting to see the trends within marriage from 1970 until 2007. I am not surprised to see that women are definitely starting to get more education and to earn more these days than they did in the 70s. I was surprised to see that men still earned a lot more than women in a high percentage of marriages, yet it seems like the trend is pointing towards more women getting a higher education than men.

This is a very informative study. But I think both the husband and wife receive and share the same income benefits during marriage. Everything they do is decided by the couple. Maybe the husband earns more because the wife takes the other aspects for the husband to work well and productive, or the other way around.

This is interesting. It really arouses my curiosity. I'll find more information. But that's anyway for presenting this.

If we apply this conclusion today, we can say that this is no true at all. It does not follow that men always benefit from the marriage. For me, neither do get richer from being married. There are additional expenses that they both need to attend.

1. List of reasons why the earnings of single women rose more than single men from 1970-2007.
a. More women than men go further their education, get graduate education.
b. More women than men complete college and get degree and move to higher earning jobs.

2. Explain the idea of the “second shift ” of women.
It is the ways in which couples negotiate housework. It refers to the extra work most women put in approximately 24hrs a day per year and how they work out who does what. But mostly the women is left doing all the “second shift”

3. Now with the idea of the “second shift” in mind, discuss how these statistics reflects even more responsibility and stress in the lives of women who are married.
They have to go out and bring in income like their husbands and still have to do the caring and other household chores. The reason men performs less care than women is not because they are men but because they believe if it needs to be done the wife has to do it ,she does it best. These second shifts are unpaid and mostly unappreciated and a way for some men to exploit their wives.

Economic status has something to do with marriage? hmm.. interesting isn't it?

very Interesting and catchy

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