London - High-flying women are finding it increasingly hard to find a husband as they refuse to marry down, research has found.
Many set the bar "too high" because they want to marry a man who is as equally well-educated and makes more money than them.
However, there are too few high-earning men to go round – and a surplus of school leavers with more modest incomes, the US study has revealed.
The finding comes as the average age at which women get married is increasing.
The delay is usually linked to the growing importance for women of education and career.
However, it seems that the refusal to lower standards is leading to a growing difficulty in finding a suitable partner.
The study was based on American Census Bureau figures, which gave details of more than ten million married couples aged from their mid-20s to their mid-40s.
Researchers Daniel Lichter, of Cornell University, and Joseph Price, of Brigham Young University, assumed that unmarried women are looking for the same qualities in potential husbands as those women who did marry.
They found "large mismatches" between the characteristics that unmarried women look for and the characteristics of single men.
Their report revealed that there is a shortage of men educated to degree level, but a surplus of men with only secondary school education.
However, women are typically looking for a potential husband with an income two-thirds higher than available men can offer.
The paper added that the problems for high-earning women are made worse by the fact that men usually choose to marry lower-earning women.
"The combination of these two factors results in poor marriage prospects," the report said.
However, there is a crumb of comfort for singletons who do choose to lower their standards.
The researchers found evidence of a "marriage premium" among men, where wages may rise in response to marriage, rather than high wages leading to marriage.
Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, said: "Smart women deserve smart men. Why aren’t they finding them? I think the problem lies more with the men than the women.
"Men today can largely get all the sex and domestic convenience of a relationship that they want without having to pay for it with a lifelong commitment. But what men need, just as much as women need, is reliable love."