The number of couples in which the woman has a higher level of university studies than her male partner is growing steadily and in many countries this trend surpasses the opposite situation, which historically has been the predominant.
This is the conclusion reached by the Centre for Demographic Studies of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (CED-UAB), which conducted a research in 56 countries to study the effects an increase in education levels amongst women are having on heterosexual relationship patterns. The research also sets the bases to delve deeper into the social dimensions this change in model may represent.
The study conducted by Albert Esteve, Joan Garcia-Roman and Iñaki Permanyer analyses the effects on couples when there are more women than men with university studies. To do this they gathered data from 138 censuses in 56 countries, dating from 1968 to 2009. The research was published in Population Development Review.
The study concludes that higher education levels in women has a direct effect on union formation. Such is the effect that in countries in which there are more women than men with university studies, the number of couples in which the woman unites “downwards” (with a man with lesser studies) surpasses those who unite “upwards” (with a man with more studies).
Traditionally in heterosexual couples, the dominating pattern existing was the educational hypergamy of the woman, a type of relationship in which the woman marries a man with a higher educational attainment and in which there are important gender differences. In recent years however, an easier access to education for women is altering this model. “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,” Albert Esteve states…
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