Woman and Marriage after 40

In the mid-1980s, an infamous story in Newsweek infuriated feminists by asserting that a single, college-educated 40-year old woman was more likely to die in a terrorist attack that walk down the aisle as a bride. The claim, which worked its way into movies and sitcoms, suggests that these educated women faced the fate of ending their lives as unmarried women.

A recent briefing paper from the Council on Contemporary Families states that historically woman with a college degree have been the “least likely” group to ever marry, these numbers are changing with every decade.

The report, by economists Betsey Stevenson and student Adam Isen of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, analyzes the data on marriage, education and women and suggest that for college-educated woman who hope to marry, the news is good.

In 1950, 90 percent of the white female high school graduates had married by the age of 40, compared to 85 percent of the college-educated women. Thirty years later, educated women began closing the gap. In 1980, 92 percent of the 40-year old white college graduates had married, compared with 96 percent of the high school graduates. Since then, marriage rates have fallen for all groups, but the chance of a woman marrying by 40 with or without a degree is about the same.

The paper illuminates the marriage over 40 question. College-educated woman who are unmarried at 40 are twice as likely to marry in the next 10 years as unmarried woman who have only high school educations.

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