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David Ayers: Condemned to marry below them? Marriage and the gender gap in college


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The Wall Street Journal recently published a powerful article on the large and growing gap between the number of men and women enrolled in US colleges and universities. Enrollments have fallen sharply in recent years, but they have declined much more for men than for women. Only 40% of current students are men.

And yet, loneliness, serial encounters and cohabitation lose their appeal after a while. With a declining “supply” of college-educated men, this is not improving. Many women with a college education, despite their preference for college, agree to marry men without these degrees.

In the 1970s, just over a quarter of married university-educated women aged 33 to 42 had husbands without a college degree. In the past decade, four in ten have done so. This trend will accelerate.

What about the men? In the 1970s, more than half of married men aged 33 to 42 with a college degree had a wife without them. From 2010 to 2018, that number had fallen to less than 1 in 4.

This shift in the education gaps of married men and women is even clearer if we look at married people without a college degree. Over the past decade, just over 10% of married women aged 33 to 42 without a college degree were married to a husband who had one. But for married men who did not graduate from college, more than 25% had a female graduate from college – two and a half times as much.

If young university-educated women think they need male spouses with bachelor’s degrees to be happy, they are in trouble.

So what to do?

The panoply of factors that disproportionately harm young men, including their academic success, include porn and video game addictions, and fatherlessness. Our public schools deny boys healthy outlets for their physical energies and natural aggressiveness.

What we need is hope for men and women now. Here are some things to consider.

First, regardless of the combination of education levels of husbands and wives, most newlyweds describe their marriage as “very happy”.

Second, the key question for men and women out of college is, “What did they do instead?” There are many ways to become an educated person in a well-paying, intellectually stimulating job without going to college.

Third, you don’t have to have a university degree to read a lot, travel, and have a job that requires constant updating of knowledge. From mechanics to solar energy technicians, the skilled trades are not static fields.

In the long term, I would like to see the relationship between men and our education systems improve. It is essential that men are better placed to take advantage of educational opportunities.

In the short term, let’s help reluctant young men to embrace college think about their options and see the many benefits that those options offer. Meanwhile, let’s help college graduate women who are desperate to correspond with college graduate men see that they don’t need a man with sheepskin to have a happy marriage or an interesting husband. and financially strong.

David J. Ayers is a Fellow for Marriage and Family at the Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College. This article first appeared in Crisis Magazine.

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