University education impacts marriage choices: study
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:58PM EDT
TORONTO - The proportion of university-educated men marrying women with degrees has surged over a 25-year period, but it's a different story for female grads tying the knot with well-educated males, according to a report released Thursday.
Using data from the 1981 and 2006 censuses, Statistics Canada decided to explore changes among women aged 25 to 49 with a university degree and those without one when it came to getting married or forming common-law unions.
"Researchers have focused a lot on the tendency of women with higher education to postpone the starting of a family," said report co-author and Statistics Canada analyst Laetitia Martin. "That's why we wanted to look at this tendency and see the impact on the fact of being married or not for university-educated women."
The report found that there was a sizable increase in the proportion of university-educated men marrying women who also had degrees.
In 2006, 67 per cent of married men with a university degree had a spouse with the same level of education, up from 38 per cent in 1981.
While the majority of women with a university education were married to men who also had degrees, the pattern has decreased slightly over the last quarter-century from 67 per cent in 1981 to 64 per cent in 2006.
"The fact that there's a higher share of women over men in university... would obviously have an impact on the amount of available men having similar education, so it can be seen as an indication of why the trend has decreased over time," Martin said from Ottawa.
In the past, women with university educations were less likely to marry than women without a university education. But in 2006, 57 per cent of women with a university degree were married, compared with 53 per cent of those without one.
In 1981, the opposite was the case, with 65 per cent of women with a university degree married, compared with 76 per cent of women without a degree.
While women with or without university degrees seemed to be more or less level when it came to getting hitched, the report finds some differences regarding university-educated women and common-law unions.
For women with degrees, the likelihood of having a partner with the same level of education was lower among common-law unions -- 48 per cent in 2006 -- compared to those who were married at 64 per cent.
Martin said other studies have found a lesser degree of commitment in common-law unions, including economically, which may explain the lower rates.
One of the consequences for university-educated women cohabiting with someone less educated is that they will have fewer financial resources compared to couples with a shared level of education, said Anne-Marie Ambert, a retired sociology professor from York University in Toronto.
"You're getting to have a social stratification system where those who have the most are couples who are married because they're more likely to both have education and therefore the higher salaries that come with that," said Ambert, author of "Changing Families: Relationships in Context."
This can also have a ripple effect when in comes to raising children, who are likely to be poorer coming from cohabiting or single-parent families, while fewer poor children tend to come from married two-parent families, she said.
"We know from the statistics that there is less money in couples who cohabit than in married couples," Ambert added. "Therefore, we also know that couples who are married share financially, where in fact it's the norm, whereas people who cohabit very often they don't share their finances. It's his money and her money and there is much less that is pooled together."