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Study: Wives surpass husbands when it comes to education

The end of the MRS degree?

By Kristin Wong Nov 1, 2012 3:18PM
It may once have been traditional for the husband to be the better-educated breadwinner, but that gender role has been challenged seriously. "Marrying up" is steadily becoming a thing of the past, a new study reveals.

Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty ImagesIn an article published last month, researchers found that the number of couples in which the woman has a higher level of education than her male counterpart is growing steadily. Researchers Albert Esteve, Joan Garcia-Roman and Inaki Permanyer led the study, titled "The Gender-Gap Reversal in Education and its Effect on Union Formation: The End of Hypergamy?". They collected data from 138 censuses in 56 countries from 1968 to 2009.

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"Newly released census microdata reveal the nearly worldwide and substantial decline in educational hypergamy (women marrying men with higher educational attainment)…" the study's abstract reveals. It continues:
"Our results show that educational hypergamy is an enduring form of gender inequality in union formation across the countries examined but that it has been decreasing over the last few decades and in some countries has reversed in recent years."

Related: How to get the ring you want

Basically, fewer women are marrying men who surpass them in terms of education -- and, presumably, how much they earn. In some countries, in fact, it's men who are marrying up.

The researchers found a steep increase in education levels among women in recent years. And that increase also shows that more women than ever are better educated than their husbands. Albert Esteve said of their findings:

"Given this historical inertia, one could consider that the increase in education amongst women would make forming unions more difficult and raise the number of single women. However, what we see is that the composition of couples adapts quite well to these structural changes and that if these changes take place, sooner or later they will have an effect on the marriage market."

Esteve explains that if the trends in education continue, "marrying up" will become completely antiquated. He continued:

"It will be interesting to observe whether this change develops into more equality between men and women in other aspects of their life."

Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

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