Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Higher education levels in women change relationship patterns

Date:
October 30, 2012
Source:
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Summary:
The number of couples in which the woman has a higher level of university studies than her male partner is growing steadily and in many countries this trend surpasses the opposite situation, which historically has been the predominant.

The number of couples in which the woman has a higher level of university studies than her male partner is growing steadily and in many countries this trend surpasses the opposite situation, which historically has been the predominant. This is the conclusion reached by the Centre for Demographic Studies of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (CED-UAB), which conducted a research in 56 countries to study the effects an increase in education levels amongst women are having on heterosexual relationship patterns. The research also sets the bases to delve deeper into the social dimensions this change in model may represent.

The study conducted by Albert Esteve, Joan Garcia-Roman and Iñaki Permanyer analyses the effects on couples when there are more women than men with university studies. To do this they gathered data from 138 censuses in 56 countries, dating from 1968 to 2009. The research was published in Population Development Review.

The study concludes that higher education levels in women has a direct effect on union formation. Such is the effect that in countries in which there are more women than men with university studies, the number of couples in which the woman unites "downwards" (with a man with lesser studies) surpasses those who unite "upwards" (with a man with more studies).

Traditionally in heterosexual couples, the dominating pattern existing was the educational hypergamy of the woman, 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. "Given this historical inertia, one could consider that the increase in education amongst 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 quite well to these structural changes and that if these changes take place, sooner or later they will have an effect on the marriage market," Albert Esteve states.

The census data used in the study, individual and anonymous, is available at IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series), a project by the University of Minnesota, which is creating an enormous international population database consisting of microdata samples. Researchers analysed both married couples and partners living together, creating an index to measure the educational difference between men and women, and another index to measure the prevalence of hypergamy over hypogamy couples when related to education.

With only a few exceptions, there is a steady decrease in the level of educational hypergamy in both advanced and developing countries, although there continues to be significant differences between these countries. At the beginning of the 1970s, "upward" couples surpassed "downward" couples in all 18 countries in which there was census data between 1970 and 1975. At the start of the new century, 26 of the 51 countries registered negative educational hypergamy values. These countries are home to diverse societies, such as France, Jordan, Mongolia, Slovenia and South Africa. In the case of Spain, in 2001 for every 100 hypogamy couples there were 67 hypergamy couples.

It was not possible to include some countries in the study due to lack of data. This includes countries such as Japan, South Korea, or China; very traditional societies in terms of relationships and with high levels of single women among those with higher education levels. Nevertheless, researchers consider that the increase in university women will end up modifying the rules of the game, principally in China, a country in which there are few women and where it is believed that in 2050 there will be 140 female university students for every 100 male university students.

Researchers nevertheless state that the study reveals the universality of a phenomenon previously observed in other countries, such as the United States and Brazil, and amplifies the results, demonstrating that this change is taking place all over the world and can have effects on other dimensions of social life.

If the trends in education continue, prevalence in educational hypergamy will continue to decrease, researchers say. This scenario suggests that the increase in education level amongst women can have important effects on traditional relationship models and represents a step forward in reaching symmetry when forming relationships. "It will be interesting to observe whether this change develops into more equality between men and women in other aspects of their life (decision-making, distribution of home tasks, divorce, fertility, etc.)," Albert Esteve comments.

Theories on couple models have not yet included this new situation. Historically, in opposition to traditional models in which marriage was an alliance between complementary gender roles (the husband providing an income for the family and the wife caring for the home and children), there appeared models in which partners shared both roles (the two-income or bi-active models with regard to the labour market).

Albert Esteve considers that "now 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."

The study calls for more research -- from a wider perspective -- on the consequences these changes may have in the distribution of gender roles. Will this lead to more equality in relationships? How will each person's expectation affect the relationship? What role is education to play in how people choose their partners? These are some of the questions researchers seek to answer in the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Albert Esteve, Joan García-Román, Iñaki Permanyer. The Gender-Gap Reversal in Education and Its Effect on Union Formation: The End of Hypergamy? Population and Development Review, 2012; 38 (3): 535 DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2012.00515.x

Cite This Page:

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. "Higher education levels in women change relationship patterns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030093739.htm>.
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. (2012, October 30). Higher education levels in women change relationship patterns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030093739.htm
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. "Higher education levels in women change relationship patterns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030093739.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Comparing his current crop of drones to early personal computers, DJI founder Frank Wang says the industry is poised for a growth surge - assuming regulators in more markets clear it for takeoff. Jon Gordon reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Mayor Outlines 50-Year Vision Ahead of Population Rise

London Mayor Outlines 50-Year Vision Ahead of Population Rise

AFP (July 30, 2014) — London Mayor Boris Johnson outlined his infrastructure plan for the British capital over the next 50 years on Wednesday, with a focus on how to cope with a population expected to reach 11 million. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins