How important is a college degree to settling down?

February 22, 2010 | NeW Staff

Not only are more women than men receiving college degrees, but today, more women are employed than men. What do these changes mean for marriage and family? Are women more or less likely to marry knowing that their potential spouse may- or may not- have a college degree and a job? Four female scholars weigh in on the matter in a collection of essays published bythe NYTimes. Here are the highlights:

Betsey Stevenson, economist, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Why has marriage thrived among college-educated women in this era of declining household specialization? Because the incentives to marry and form a family today are shifting from the old model of specialized and separate roles — a model that was less appealing for career-oriented women — to a new model focused on a shared vision for how to live one’s life.

Stephanie Coontz, historian, Evergreen State College

And in the absence of alternative models of masculinity, many low-income men will compensate for their lack of respect and resources by cultivating a hypermasculine identity that scorns traditional definitions of responsible manhood.

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Institute for American Values

The modern marital bargain is that both spouses bring home a paycheck. So women who work want to marry a man who can find work. If they can’t find such a guy, then some would just as soon go it alone.

Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist, Rutgers University

The economic downturn, however, may be spurring another ancient lifeway: serial monogamy.

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