investing

Men marrying richer wives

Thursday, Jan. 21
Posted: 9 a.m. EDT

Among the trends of wealth, there's one emerging in a marriage near you: Women have outpaced men in terms of education and earnings growth in recent decades, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

The study compared husbands and wives and the changes in economic status from 1970 to 2007. It concludes that there has been a "significant" gender role reversal since 1970. In the past, marriage almost always held more economic benefits for women than for men. Now, the state of matrimony contains more economic benefits for men than for women.

In 2007, more men were married to women whose income and education exceeded their own than was the case in 1970. Women are also graduating from college at a higher rate -- 53.5 percent of them in 2007 versus 36 percent in 1970, while men's rates have been declining, from 64 percent in 1970 to 46.5 percent in 2007.

Higher education -- in men and women -- leads to higher lifetime earnings, but there's another factor at work here too: the recent recession. The study cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2009 that notes that men accounted for three-quarters of the 2008 decline in employment among working-age adults. With more men than women in the unemployment line, some are dependent on their wives' earnings.

What are your thoughts on the economic gender gap? Send me an e-mail at jmartel@bankrate.com

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Questions? Comments? E-mail jmartel@bankrate.com

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