People aren’t getting married as much as they used to.
In 1960, only 1 in 10 adults aged 25 and older had never married, according to the Pew Research Center.
In 2012, that number stood at 1 in 5.
Researchers for The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public-policy organization based in Washington, D.C., recently found that one reason behind the marriage decline may be higher expectations from women who are pursuing college degrees.
For every 100 college-educated women aged 25 to 35, there are 85 college-educated men, according to the study. That stands in contrast to every 100 employed, childless woman in that age group with a high school diploma; there are 257 employed men with a diploma in that category.
“These disparities are the result of women’s rising education levels,” the researchers wrote. “Women are now more educated than men, meaning that they will necessarily face a shortage of marriage partners with the same level of education…
“What we are likely to see in the future, then, is either women marrying ‘down,’ educationally, or not marrying at all.”
Other reasons for the decline in marriage are weakened earnings among less-educated men, shifts in male behavior and the increased economic independence of women, like a higher percentage of women in the workforce, according to the study.
University of Florida nursing student Gabriela Moncada, 22, doesn’t believe that women are looking to marry “down” educationally just yet.
She said she thinks marriage rates are decreasing because women are trying to be more independent, and therefore are increasing their standards for men.
“If you’re a woman that knows what you want out of your life, you’re not going to settle on just any guy for the sole purpose of being with someone,” Moncada said.
Bernardo Grisi, a 22-year-old paramedic student at Santa Fe College, said he can see how the independence of women would affect marriage rates.
“Nowadays, women have way more power and prestige than like 30 years ago or so,” he said.
Marriageability, as defined by sociologist William Julius Wilson, was once based on the ratio of employed men to all women of the same age. But because of cultural, economic and social changes, that definition is outdated, according to the study.
Grisi said he would define marriageability as being faithful, having the ability to compromise and being financially stable.
“The definition should be a two-way thing for men and women,” he said.
Martha Cordoba, a 21-year-old finance student at UF, said she feels college-educated women are more independent
nowadays and worrying about themselves rather than men.
“I feel like women aren’t looking for men like they once were,” Cordoba said. “They’re not trying to start families at a young age. Instead, they are more focused on establishing their careers and their own lives.”
UF accounting student Daniela Wilson said women want partners who are successful or on the road to becoming successful.
“You want a partner that’s going to be stable, strong and balanced,” the 20-year-old said.
Something that Moncada, Cordoba and Wilson all recognized is that times have changed — and so have women.
“We live in a time now where we don’t need a man to live out our lives,” Moncada said. “It’s incredible how much has changed through the years.”
Wilson said with time, the concept of marriage has also changed.
“If you look at our parents and grandparents, they were probably married with children in their early twenties, and that wouldn’t be looked down upon,” she said. “Now, women are going to school, starting a career and then thinking about a family.”
Moncada said her views about marriage are skewed, but that is possibly because she grew up with divorced parents.
“To me, marriage is not a big thing,” she said. “If you find someone you want to be with for the rest of your life, you don’t need a piece of paper to declare that.”