There’s an old expression in English, “The more, the merrier.” Merry is an old-fashioned word that means to be happy, as in “Merry Christmas.” “The more, the merrier” means the more people you have, say, at a party, the happier everyone is. We usually say this when somebody asks to join our group or some activity, and we want to make them feel welcome. But today I want to talk about not more people, but more money, and not “merry” as in happy, but marry, as in becoming husband and wife.
A new study of marriage in the United States has found that, in 2007, 19% of wives had husbands who were better educated (had more education) than they were, and 20% were married to men with less education. (Presumably (probably, most likely), the rest of the married couples had equal amounts of education, although the newspaper story I read doesn’t mention this.) But in 1970, 28% of wives had husbands who were better educated, and 20% were married to men with less education. In other words, it used to be that nearly 30% of women married men who were better educated than they were, but now that figure (number) has dropped to 19%. In 1970, only 4% of husbands had wives who made more money than they did; in 2007, 22% of husbands had wives who made more money than they did.
What can explain this change? First, this is the first generation of Americans in which more women have graduated from college than men, a change from previous generations when the majority of college graduates were men. With more education typically comes more income, although the relationship between education and income (the amount of money you make) is strong but not perfect. Second, many men clearly do not mind (are not bothered by) the fact that their wives have more education and make more money. It is still true, however, that women with college degrees are more likely to marry today than less educated women, although the overall percentage of the U.S. population that is married has been declining (going down, becoming less).
Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or neither good nor bad?