Marriage: A Good Investment for Guys

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A new study is out showing that in 1970, an unmarried man was better off financially than the guy who had tied the knot. Today, the reverse is true. Will the news bring on a mad rush of men chomping at the bit to pop the question?

Wives are better educated and make a lot more money than they did a few decades ago, according to a Pew Research Center study, and reported on by the Washington Post. We all sort of knew that, I suppose. But it’s pretty amazing how quickly things have changed, and how the changes have altered the dynamic between spouses. In 1970, 28% of husbands had more education than their wives, while 20% of marriages were those in which the wife had more education than her hubby. But today (or in 2007, where the stats come from), the situation has flipped: In 28% of marriages, wives have more education, while husbands have better schooling in only 19% of them. (Most marriages remain combinations of equals: No matter if it was 1970 or 2007, a little over half of marriages are those in which spouses have about the same educations.)

As for income, in 1970, only 4% of wives earned more money than their husbands. Now, 22% of women make more dough their ball-and-chains. This trend has accelerated during the recession—due to the “mancession” effect, as some have called the economic crisis’s disproportionate impact on men. Guys have accounted for as much as 80% of the job loss over the past couple of years.

Overall, the generational shift in wives’ earning and education means that marriage is a much better deal for guys than it used to be. As the Pew Research Center puts it:

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.

Here’s the other side of the equation, about folks who don’t get married:

For unmarried adults at each level of education … men’s household incomes fared worse than those of women. Unmarried women in 2007 had higher household incomes than their 1970 counterparts at each level of education. But unmarried men without any post-secondary education lost ground because their real earnings decreased and they did not have a wife’s wages to buffer that decline.

So guys: If you want to bump up your financial status, and to hedge your bets in uncertain economic times, getting hitched is the way to go, apparently.

Then again, some marriages are way more unstable than the stock market, or even real estate in South Florida.