NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 8, 2008

Wedlock is increasingly becoming the province of the well-educated and wealthy, according to a new report from Monash University, based on analysis of data from the 2006 national census.

It's long been assumed that more educated women are less traditional and more financially independent and are therefore less likely to need to or want to marry, says researcher Genevieve Heard.  This assumption has been borne out in the data for a long time.  But now, in the 2006 data, the researchers conclude that the pattern has reversed so that women with post-school qualifications, especially those with degrees, are now in fact more likely to be married than their counterparts with less education, says Heard.

Other major findings:

  • While the marriage rate was falling overall, for women over 30 it was declining rapidly for those with only a high school education.
  • The census data on women 30 to 34 revealed that in 1996, 64 percent of women with a bachelor degree or higher were married, slightly less than the 65 percent of women in the same age group who did no extra study after school.

But the group more likely to be married had reversed within the decade:

  • Some 61 percent of women 30 to 34 with degrees or higher married by 2006.
  • Compared with 53 percent of women in the same age group with no post-school qualifications.

It was too simplistic to say that the fading appeal of marriage in an era when de facto relationships were widely accepted was the only reason for the numbers.  Increasingly, married Australians are concentrated among those with higher earning potential, says Heard.

Source: Agence France-Presse, "Smarter Women Marry," Monash University/, April 7, 2008.


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