Marrying up is on the way down

Is there any generation that doesn’t consider itself a watershed? We’re suckers for studies that prove we were born at a true turning point. Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research — a lefty, UK-based think tank — shows that “marrying up” is becoming a thing of the past, and the change really started with women born in the 1970s (hi!). While there has been a slight rise in the number of women who “marry down” (we prefer to think of it as a rise in the number of men seeking “aspirational marriages”), the most significant change is that more and more women are choosing to marry men of a similar social status, rather than trying to “bag a rich man,” as the classy saying goes.  Sorry, Don Draper.

Amongst women born in 1958, for example, 38% married “well” — and please take those distancing quote-marks seriously! 23% married someone from a poorer background, and about a third married someone of similar status. Amongst women born in 1970, the number “marrying up” dropped by 5%, and 45% married someone of similar status. And for women born between 1976 and 1981, only 16% married a Don Draper.

In other words, women aren’t looking to a guy to help them get out of the typing pool or buy them pretty things anymore — they now get to have other priorities when choosing a mate. Like, you know, compatibility. Chemistry. Awesome sex. A shared love of knock-knock jokes.

But before you go breaking out the champagne, the director of the Institute for Public Policy Research says that this change is not unequivocal good news — and may, in fact, lead to increased economic and social inequality. “This shift has implications for inequality, as well-educated, higher earners marry each other and then pass on the fruits of their combined success to their children,” he said. Way to rain on the parade! We bet that guy is really fun at dinner parties. [via]