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Patterns of Divorce Changing Among Educated Couples

There has long been a perception, supported by numerous studies, that married couples in which the wife is more educated than the husband are more likely to divorce. Indeed, according to one meta-analysis of several studies done over the last few decades, marriages in which wives were more educated than their husbands were approximately 27–38 percent more likely to end in divorce.

Differing Attitudes of Recently Married Couples

As described by US News and World Reports, in the first half of the 20th century, men's educational attainment levels vastly outstripped that of women. Beginning in the 1970s, however, this imbalance began to level out. More and more women went to colleges and graduate schools, and more and more women entered the workplace. They quickly caught up to men in terms of education. Indeed, so dramatic has the influx of women into US schools been that, according to the US Department of Education, women today earn 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees and 63 percent of all master's degrees.

Yet, despite the studies showing that marriages with better-educated women are more likely to end in divorce, a recent analysis of marriages by decade shows that this is changing.

According to a study released by the American Sociological Review, while "[w]ives with more education than their husbands were once more likely to divorce than other women…this is no longer the case."

Marriages entered into from the 1950s through the 1970s, indeed, showed a higher divorce risk when the couple had an education gap favoring the wife. However, beginning in the 1980s, as American culture came to grips with women's education, these couples were less prone to divorce than their predecessors. And, according to the study, couples with better-educated wives that married from the 1990s and after are no more likely to divorce than those with better-educated husbands.

Equally Educated Couples Least Likely to Divorce

However, the couples least likely to divorce today are those with equally or relatively equally educated husbands and wives. When both spouses are college educated—or when both spouses have graduate or professional degrees—they are more likely to remain together. As the study explains, this is "consistent with perspectives emphasizing shifts in the institution of marriage away from rigid gender specialization and toward more flexible, egalitarian partnerships."

In other words, in a world that has moved toward viewing marriage as a partnership between spouses, couples that share educational credentials are the most successful of all.

The researchers that published this study cautioned that more work still needs to be done, especially when analyzing how income levels affect couples of both varied and equal income levels (the study on education was controlled for income). But the information that is now available sheds welcome light on this changing issue.

Contact an Attorney to Help with Family Law Matters

If you need assistance in the event of a divorce or some other family law-related issue, please do not hesitate to contact the legal professionals at Miami based Hager & Schwartz, P.A. to learn how we can help.

Categories: Divorce, Family Law