The dynamics of marriage are changing, and education is playing a large role in the shift.
A college education can boost more than your lifetime earnings: It might also boost your odds of getting married, according to the nonprofit Brookings Institution.
In a recent article dissecting America’s so-called “marriage gap,” the think tank reports that not only are marriage rates higher among college-educated women than among less-educated women, they are higher among women with advanced degrees when compared with women who have only bachelor’s degrees.
These statistics reflect a trend that has emerged in recent decades and reached a turning point in 2008 — the first time that marriage rates among college-educated 30-year-olds surpassed marriage rates among 30-year-olds without a degree.
As a result of this trend, the dynamics of marriage are changing, making the institution more egalitarian.
Women with more education have more financial independence, which affords them the option to forgo marriage. But instead, they’re using their financial independence to renegotiate the terms of marriage. As the Brookings researchers put it:
In the past, highly-educated women faced an unenviable choice between accepting a patriarchal marriage or forgoing marriage and children entirely. Now they are able to raise their children within a stable marriage without compromising their independence. It looks then as though women’s independence hasn’t led to a rejection of the matrimonial institution, as much as its transformation.
The researchers go so far as to suggest that “the ‘new’ American marriage, and its promise that both partners will contribute equally to the many demands of raising a family, might in fact be an institution that furthers rather than inhibits the feminist agenda.”
The changing role of American fathers, as recently detailed by the nonprofit Pew Research Center, seems to support this.
Comparing this decade to several decades ago, Pew found that “there is clearly a more equal distribution of labor between mothers and fathers these days.” That includes fathers nearly tripling the time they spend on child care and more than doubling the time they spend on housework.
Additionally, fewer fathers are sole breadwinners — 28 percent as of 2015, down from 47 percent in 1970.
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