Increasing pressure on US men for income in order to find a spouse

Fieder, M., Huber, S., 2023. Increasing pressure on US men for income in order to find a spouse. Biodemography and Social Biology, 1-19.

In contemporary societies, social status – especially income – is one of the most important determinants of ever marrying among men. Using U.S. census data, we estimated the importance of income for ever marrying among men and women, analyzing birth cohorts from 1890 to 1973. We examined individuals between the ages of 45 and 55, a total of 3.5 million men and 3.6 million women. We find that for men, the importance of income in predicting ever being married increased steadily over time. Income predicted only 2.5% of the variance in ever marrying for those born in 1890–1910, but about 20% for the 1973 cohort. For women, the opposite is true: the higher a woman’s income among those born between 1890 and 1910, the lower her odds of ever being married, explaining 6% of the variance, whereas today a woman’s income no longer plays a role in ever being married. Thus, our results provide evidence that income may represent a very recent selection pressure on men in the US, a pressure that has become increasingly stronger over time in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

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