From today's NY Times article with the headline "Facing Middle Age With No Degree, and No Wife":
Once, virtually all Americans had married by their mid-40’s. Now, many American men without college degrees find themselves still single as they approach middle age.
About 18 percent of men ages 40 to 44 with less than four years of college have never married, according to census estimates.
WHITE MEN VS. BLACK MEN
The article pretends that this is some special problem faced by men with only high school degrees. However, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, for non-Hispanic white men ages 40 to 44, 14% of men with less than a 4 year college degree, and 12.8% of men with a four year degree or greater, have never been married. I don't think that a 1.2% difference is that big of a deal.
Because black men are far less likely to be married than white men (26.4% of black men ages 40 to 44 have never been married), and because black men are less likely to have a college degree, mixing up blacks and whites together creates the impression there is some special problem facing men without college degrees.
MARRIAGE AND INTELLIGENCE
I have previously blogged about how more intelligent men are less likely to get married. On the surface the data above seems to conflict with that, but it doesn't. There are two forces working in opposite directions. Men with better careers are more likely to get married because they are more attractive to women. Men with higher intelligence are less likely to get married because they are less attractive to women. Men with higher intelligence are more likely to have better educational attainment which in turn causes better careers.
I looked at the General Social Survey for years 1996 to 2004, and it reveals that among white men ages 40 to 44, 15.9% without college degrees and 16.0% with college degrees were never married, based on a sample size of 395 respondents without degrees and 169 with. The GSS seems to be biased in favor of a higher percentage of never married respondents compared with the U.S. Census. In the same sample, of the 38 men with Wordsum 9 or 10, 28.5% were unmarried, demonstrating again that the curse of high intelligence is far less attractive to women than the minor problem of not having a college degree.
THE WOMAN SHORTAGE
The above discussion aside, there is a very real trend in which people of both sexes are less likely to be married, but it's worse for men. 9.2% of white women ages 40 to 44 have never been married according to the 2000 U.S. Census, compared to 13.7% of men. That's a pretty big difference. The NY Times article did not mention The Woman Shortage.
One important cause of the Woman Shortage, which I failed to mention in previous blog posts, is the declining birthrate. Because men tend to marry younger, a declining birthrate means there's a smaller pool of younger women than if the birthrate were steady. Other factors causing the Woman Shortage include 105 boy babies being born for every 100 girl babies, and older divorced men re-marrying younger never-married women.
COLLEGE GENDER GAP
The NY Times article seems influenced by the notion that increasing college enrollment for women is causing a marriage problem. I don't buy into this. A lot of the marginal female students are older women who are married or divorced, and their post-college income is, on average, lower than the cream of the blue collar male crop.
DECLINING REAL INCOME OF MARRIAGE AGED MEN
One woman in interviewed in the article said that for a man to be "marriage material" he has to have his own apartment. I previously blogged about the fact that more men are living with their parents. Surely, the declining real income of young men combined with the increasing real cost of housing makes them less attractive to women during the ages when men normally get married.