Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Monday, March 14, 2016
College graduates have different marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing patterns than everybody else
The last 60 years have seen the emergence of a dramatic socioeconomic gradient in marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing. The divide is between college graduates and others: those without four-year degrees have family patterns and trajectories very similar to those of high school graduates.
A new paper documents these trends and shows that, compared with college graduates, less-educated women are more likely to enter into cohabiting partnerships early and bear children while cohabiting, are less likely to transition quickly into marriage, and have much higher divorce rates.
There are two broad sets of explanations for these differences. Conventional explanations focus on the diminished economic prospects of less-educated men. The authors propose an alternative explanation focusing on educational differences in demand for marital commitment. As the gains from traditional gender-based specialization have declined, the value of marriage has decreased relative to cohabitation, which offers many of the gains of co-residence with less commitment.
The paper argues that college graduate parents use marriage as a commitment device to facilitate intensive joint investments in their children. For less educated couples for whom such investments are less desirable or less feasible, commitment and, hence, marriage has less value relative to cohabitation. The resulting socioeconomic divergence has implications for children and for future inequality.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Gendered Expectations and Experiences
- Summer McWilliams, Department of Sociology, Florida State University, 526 Bellamy Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rising numbers of single middle-aged and older adults encouraged a proliferation of online dating websites targeting this population. However, few studies examine aging adults’ involvement in online dating. This study uses semistructured interviews with 18 online daters aged 53 to 74 and 2 romance coaches to examine how aspects of their online expectations and experiences are shaped by age and gender. Analyses reveal that men seek committed relationships, whereas women desire companionship without demanding caring roles. Different barriers to dating increase the appeal of online strategies: Men face narrow social networks, while women face competition from younger women and friendship norms limiting the pool of eligible partners. Both genders screen for youthful characteristics and attempt to convey youthful images of themselves. Men’s criteria center on physical attractiveness, whereas women’s focus is on abilities. In constructing profiles, women focus on their looks and sociability and men on their financial and occupational successes.