Thursday, November 18, 2010

Young Men: Bad Marriage Risks?

As men's earnings have fallen over the decades, women are thinking twice about getting married. The median age at first marriage reached a new record high in 2010 for both women (26.1 years) and men (28.2 years). Simply put, in the eyes of young women, today's young men are poor marriage risks. Why commit yourself to one man with iffy financial prospects?

For many young men, the future looks dreary. One reason for the dismal outlook is that young men are far less educated than young women. Only 29 percent of men aged 25 to 34 have a bachelor's degree compared with 37 percent of women in the age group.

Because of their lower educational attainment, young men are bringing less and less to the table. The median income of men aged 25 to 34 fell 15 percent between 2000 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Their female counterparts experienced a smaller 4 percent income loss during those years. Among full-time workers, women in the age group earn almost as much as men ($35,608 versus $41,240). And in the 25-to-34 age group, women are less likely to be unemployed—9.2 percent of women versus 10.4 percent of men in October 2010.

Sociologists have long known about women's aversion to marriage in low-income communities. When men are in trouble, it makes more sense for women to play the field. This aversion to marriage may be emerging in the broader society as the middle class struggles to stay afloat.

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