For years the divorce rate has been a hot topic of conversation. Since the statistic was first measured it’s climbed steadily as the stigma of divorce has faded away. When The Great Recession began in 2008 the divorce rate actually dipped as unhappy spouses chose to stay in their relationships due to job losses, depressed home values and diminished savings. However, the same fear of financial failure has caused many more couples, and much more singles, to put off marriage altogether.
Bloomberg News was kind enough to share insights gleamed from economist Edward Yardeni in a recently published report to his clients entitled “Selfies”. After pouring over research from The Bureau of Labor Statistics Yardeni notes that “The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent.”
In another recent study conducted by PEW, researchers concluded that “nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.”
There are many explanations for why these trends are continuing and the implications are profound. In short, with gender parity increasing across the spectrum and less social pressure on women to marry and have children, women are choosing careers over relationship much like men have done for years. For the women refusing to “settle” in either, or both however, the choice isn’t always their own. Although many women would like to have it all, it seems that only the most elite are likely of doing so except in instances where the woman significantly out earns her male counterpart or the couple was formed earlier in life. The same PEW study about childlessness mentioned above also pointed out that, “While childlessness has risen for all racial and ethnic groups, and most education levels, it has fallen over the past decade for women with advanced degrees.”
All of these trends combined have caused a new disparity to emerge in our society that I call ‘the coupling inequality’, the already massive and continuously growing divide between the most eligible women and most eligible men. Essentially, the number of physically attractive, well educated, high income, marriage minded women that desire children significantly outnumbers the same kind of men. Once beyond the age of 30 – 35, these men are predominantly seeking women 5 – 10 years younger than them. That creates an abundance of women in their mid thirties to early forties still hoping to meet their “equal”. I’d venture to say at around 30 this ratio is 2:1. At around 35 this ratio is 3:1. By 40 though, this ratio is 5:1 or higher.
Men who were already reluctant to “settle” because their attractiveness as a mate continues to improve, and the proportion of eligible women for them improves at an even faster rate, it only further exacerbates the “bigger better deal” complex. Because there are more and more eligible women to choose from as men become more and more eligible themselves, they are less and less likely to settle down until they meet a truly elite match. Now more than ever if women want to settle down before their childbearing years are up, and still want to have these kick ass careers, they are going to have to make meeting a match a priority and do something to give them a leg up on the competition. That’s where matchmakers like me come into play. But they’re also going to have to be more realistic in terms of the age, height, looks, education and income they would be willing to accept in a mate.
To read the article in Bloomberg, click HERE.
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