Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The (college) education gap?

At First Things, Mary Angelita Ruiz comments on the NYT article, "Facing Middle Age with No Degree, and No Wife." She writes:

The authors examine at some length the possibility that many women now choose not to marry because the men they know are less educated than they are and are therefore chancy financial prospects. This is a narrow view of the situation. It is true that women now attend college in greater numbers than men, that the number of steady blue-collar jobs available to men without college degrees has decreased, and that women, let’s face it, like men with money. But Porter and O’Donnell do not examine the possibility—which, to be fair, was not examined in the census data they used—that educated women choose not to marry less-educated men because of a change in the way Americans view education.
Her alternative explanation:
Americans with university educations now look at a college diploma the way people fifty years ago, or even twenty-five years ago, looked at a high school diploma. A college diploma signals two things, correctly or incorrectly: that the diploma-holder is responsible and will strive to keep his family from needing to survive paycheck-to-paycheck, and that he has basic familiarity with American culture or some intellectual pursuit, and is thus potentially interesting and companionable. Whether he actually is responsible, interesting, or companionable is irrelevant, as is the certainty that many men who do not have university educations are more responsible, interesting, and companionable than many who do. What matters is the cultural assumption that a woman “marries down” in terms of maturity and intellect, not merely financially, if she marries a man who is not as educated as she is. I imagine that this assumption is
widespread enough to account for a statistically significant portion of the drop in marriages.
It has been reported that college-educated African-American women are not marrying men without the same background, and hence their poor of eligible mates has been limited, possibly impacting the crisis of the African-American family. I wonder if the same will happen with 'Euro-American' women, but my suspicion is that those who have money will tend to congregate in the same places (i.e. bars and clubs), even if the men they meet don't have a college education, and they will date (or sleep with) those men. Will they ultimately settle down with one? Are college-educated men just as likely or even more likely than blue-collar men to avoid marriage? Will the difference in education have a greater impact than obstacles to marriage and family due to character? Those looking for a "match" may take education into consideration. Those going on emotion or impulse may be looking for something else. But given that many men and women are marrying later to begin with, and the first place they look are probably those places they frequent (such as the workplace), there may be sufficient time for them to change their ideas about the importance of having a degree. (After all, one does not need a degree in order to be educated or reason well, and a degree is an indication of neither.) However, it may not be sufficient time for them to come to understand the purpose of marriage and the importance of character. (Enough men can find temporary shack-up honeys, without feeling the "need" to get married.) An analysis of "psychological preparedness" (really, just plain ol' maturity) needs to come into play. After all, what if people are avoiding marriage simply because they are self-centered.

Finally I found the post I was looking for, the one on this same topic that I had last read. It's over at Eunomia, which refers us to Steve Sailer's reaction.

Last week Range referred me to this post. Or was it this one? Definitely not this one. Fred Reed's main website.

No comments: