Why SA women are ‘marrying down’


London - Women are increasingly “marrying down” and choosing men who are less qualified and educated than themselves, according to new research.

The growing number of girls going through university and into work means that centuries of men holding the higher social status within relationships are coming to an end, it reveals.

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Julia Roberts, from left, Danny Moder, and Karen Hall pose for a photo at Heal The Bay's Bring Back the Beach Gala, Thursday, May 17, 2012, at The Jonathan Club in Santa Monica, Calif. Heal The Bay's Bring Back the Beach Gala honors Julia Roberts, Danny Moder, Amy Smart, and Matt Hart for their environmental leadership. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)Sandra Bullock wed motorcycle builder Jesse James in 2005. The couple divorced five years later.

In many countries it is now more common for the female half of the partnership to be better educated than the male half, said the global study by university experts in Barcelona.

Technically, a partnership where the woman has the higher social status is known as hypogamy. But more commonly it was called “marrying down”, added the researchers.

Traditionally it was the man who was better educated, better qualified, had more money and thus a higher social status.

But across the world, from Europe to South Africa to Arab countries like Jordan, it is girls who are more likely to go into further education rather than leave school and get married.

This means that by the time they do find a partner they are likely to be educated to degree level or beyond, and the man they choose may not have got that far.

Demographic academics from the Universitat Automnoma de Barcelona looked at census figures from 56 countries across the world dating back to the late 1960s.

In 21 of those countries there were now more women “marrying down” than “marrying up”, they found. These countries are as diverse as France, Slovenia and Mongolia.

They are countries where the number of female students are beginning to outnumber the male student population.

And many other countries would see this happen in future, not just in the West but also in Asia, the study said.

Researcher Albert Esteve said: “Traditionally, in heterosexual couples, the dominating pattern was 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.

“One could consider that the increase in education among 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 well to these structural changes.”

It may also alter traditional gender roles of a husband earning the money while the wife looked after the home and children, said Esteve.

He said: “We must focus on studying the hypogamy model, not only on educational aspects, but also when the woman is the main income earner which, in these times of crisis, is becoming increasingly the case.” – Daily Mail






South Africa


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