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Well-Educated Women Get Divorced at a Higher Rate

Well-Educated Women Have Less Successful Marriages

A survey of more than 100,000 professionals found that the more educated a woman, the less likely she'll have a successful marriage. Those with MBAs are twice as likely to get divorced or separated as men with the same educational background, and slightly more likely to have a failed marriage than women with bachelor degrees. Women with law or medical degrees are also more likely to divorce or separate than men with equivalent diplomas.

The woman conducting the study, Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, is herself a divorcee and said "In a lot of ways women aren't getting the same deal as men. Women can't have it all because there is a social stigma to having or being a stay-at-home spouse." OK, so maybe you're thinking this seems like the same old story that we've heard a million times before? Here's an interesting fact to service your hum-drum Hump Day — the study also found that professional women "opt-out" from marriage at double and occasionally triple the rate of men.

Professor Wilson suggested that very successful women "can't summon up the TLC and support that high-earning men need," and should focus on "targeting particularly loving and supportive men." Shouldn't that be the goal no matter your education or income?


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I think that educated woman are putting more time and effort into their jobs and don't have as much time for a marriage. You need to have a work/life balance and that is really hard for woman to do for some reason. It's crazy to think in 2008 lots of women still feel like they need to choose between marriage and a career. UGH!
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
Wow. That is a new statistic. I read once that the higher educated and more money a woman made the more successful her relationships. It was part of a sociology studied I did my freshman year of college in 2002. What changed?
mandy_frost mandy_frost 9 years
sundrops -- YES! I had a HUGE problem with that statement: about how educated women can't "summon up the TLC high-earning men" need. Don't make it all our faults. Maybe the men can't "summon up the TLC" we need. UGH! That statement reminded me of a 50s article I saw once where it listed a housewife's duties. High-earning men need not be treated like gods by anyone.
ScoutsMom ScoutsMom 9 years
It seems to me this all boils down to expectations and the ability to communicate them. As a divorced lawyer I can tell you that my job had an immediate, negative impact on my marriage. X began an affair four months after I began my job, and this after 9 years of marriage during which we had very literally moved around the world to support his career. Two years after the divorce I am involved with a man whose expectations regarding time together, family and career are probably very similar to the X, but he tells me about them!
JJMarie JJMarie 9 years
Maybe the professional women get divorced because they don't need their husbands to support them and the uneducated women can't support themselves, so are less likely to get divorced even if they might want to.
sundrops sundrops 9 years
If women were marrying men of equal education and can't "summon up the TLC high-earning men" need, wouldn't the percentages of divorce rates match? Maybe these women need to be marrying high-earning, degreed men that may respect their education...
melizzle melizzle 9 years
j2e1n9: You took the words right out of my mouth. Too often, we expect marriage and raising a family to be easy and something we can just add on to our laundry list of responsibilities. I don't think double-income households are impossible. I just don't they're ideal. Unfortunately, the reality of the economy that we live in is that it is extremely difficult to support a family on one income alone.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Hmmm. These results are predictable.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 9 years
Hm. Interesting. My mom has her Masters and my dad is a PhD. They've been married for almost 30 years. I have my Bachelors and my ex-husband barely graduated high school. We lasted 8 years. I'm quite happy being single and working for myself. I'm fine with not having kids, also.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
I guess getting a law degree isn't optimal for me! Just kidding! A lot of this, I think, has to do with expectations, time, and even feeling the necessity of marriage. Well-educated people with higher degrees also tend to marry older, possibly as a result of higher standards, more emphasis on education, and all of that good stuff. It completely makes sense to me even though it's not the rosiest picture.
randomname12345 randomname12345 9 years
I hear ya on this one. It's particularly bad if you have higher degrees and everyone else you meet only has a high school diploma or a few years of community college under their belt.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
j2e1n9: You said exactly what I came in here to say. Somebody has to keep the home fires burning. For those of us of "a certain age", our husbands were raised to expect this to be the wife. My DH of 23 years still does not grocery shop or cook. He also does not pick up the kids or do laundry unless it's a marginal crisis. *I* have the more challenging career and longer commute. I'm still a bit bitter about buying the story the hard-line feminists sold us about how we could have it all, simultaneously. Perhaps, but if you don't have the time and energy to invest, none of those efforts can be really successful. And yes, I'm a former dues-paying, card-carrying member of NOW, so I'm allowed to say that! :raspberry:
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
i keep reading all these divorce stats and yet i don't know very many divorced people. in my daughters classes there 2 kids in each class with divorced parents, and one never married. on their swim team no divorced parents. the stats for parents of children on the autism spectrum (us) is 85%. i know lots of parents of kids with autism and none of them are divorced. where are all these divorced people!?????
nobodymuch nobodymuch 9 years
As a physician, I work long exhausting often inflexible hours. Many female physicians are married to people who also have intense careers. Ultimately, someone has to sacrifice career opportunities to pay the bills and pick up the kids. Not all women today are prepared to be that person, and some marriages end as a result, it's a sad thing I've seen again and again. Society is still a lot more forgiving of men who put career first. Women have to make some difficult choices, and these statistics probably reflect that. My husband is great, but I guess we're still newlyweds.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Doesnt surprise me at all. Relationships and families take a lot of work, they're practically full time jobs themselves! Its virtually impossible for a woman (or man) to have a career, raise children, take care of the rest of her family members, maintain a strong relationship with her husband, take care of the home, and take care of her health simultaneously (without hired help). Out of all those things, you couldnt do them all perfectly. So if your career is succeeding, that usually means something else is falling apart... Hello, what are we, super heroes? ;) IMO its best to have one person working and the other person taking care of the rest of the shit, or both working PART TIME only and taking care of the rest of the family crap part time as well. I dont think the equation works when two people are working full time...
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
i agree with glowing moon. women who are more educated are less willing to endure being 'stuck' with the wrong person for economic comfort. they can take care of themselves!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I agree -- it may be a matter of economic survival.
remedios remedios 9 years
Jude C that's probably part of it. My first reaction when I read this was "what's the definition of a failed marriage?" Are we just looking at separations and divorces? Because there are plenty of people that are in failed marriages but don't bother to get out of them. This would dovetail with your theory too. If women are in failed marriages but don't exit them, perhaps it's because of the difficulty with surviving without the spouse financially.
ALSW ALSW 9 years
In my family, the opposite seems to hold true. My two aunts who have been divorced both had high school educations while everyone else with higher or equal education status is still married.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Jude, I also think that its in part by the man not being able to handle not being the more successful one. What is also harder in the divorce is men asking for palimony because they have never had to "completely survive on their own". I know two cases of this going on right now.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Thats crazy. Thinking about this and my aunts, all the ones with college degrees and higher are divorced (married to white collars), the ones with a high school diploma are still married (married to blue collars).
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Just a theory, but perhaps one factor is that well-educated and more financially successful women don't feel the need to stay with a man out of financial worry or inability to support themselves? It's a lot easier to leave a man when you're unhappy with the relationship if you know you'll at least be financially fine, than if leaving him would mean losing financial support.
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