More Educated Wives No Longer Associated with Increased Risk of Divorce, Study


University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that there was a lesser risk of divorce in marriages where wife was more qualified than her husband.

For decades, it was believed that such couple were more prone to divorce than other couples. But, the latest study has found this is no longer the case.

"We also found that couples in which both individuals have equal levels of education are now less likely to divorce than those in which husbands have more education than their wives," said Christine R. Schwartz, lead author of the study and an associate professor of sociology, in a press release. "These trends are consistent with a shift away from a breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage toward a more egalitarian model of marriage in which women's status is less threatening to men's gender identity."

Researchers said the college completion rates among women began to surpass that of men's, beginning in the mid-1980s. Since then, their educational advantage continued to grow and hasn't showed any signs of slowing.  

For the study, researchers surveyed heterosexual U.S. marriages from 1950-2009. They found that more than 60 percent of the couples, married between 2005 and 2009, featured a wife who was more educated than her husband - a 35 percent increase from the early 1950s. Plus, wife's educational advantage over her husband was no longer associated with an increased risk of divorce among those married in the 1990s or later.

Schwartz said that ignoring the long-standing norm that wives should have lower status than their husbands', current couples are entering into relationships where women are more educated and have the educational advantage. "The modern relationship between educational qualifications, marriage, and risk of divorce indicates the society's acceptance to the demographic reality that women have more education than men."

The study, titled "The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Trends in Martial Dissolution," is published in the journal American Sociological Review.

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