London, Apr 8 (ANI): In the 1950s more women aspired to marry their bosses to move up the social ladder as compared to modern day women who are "marrying down" rather than "marrying up", a new study has revealed.
A shift in marriage patterns over the past 40 years has seen an end to the fairytale rags-to-riches route to love and a rise in modern women choosing men of the same or lower social class.
According to thinktank IPPR, the move has implications for social mobility and inequality which has produced a report looking at women born in different generations since the 1950s, when some male executives infamously used the typing pool as a dating agency.
In the postwar period of rising social mobility, women increasingly married men who were both older and of a higher social class than themselves.
But analysis of patterns among women born in 1958, 1970 and between 1976 and 1981 shows a decline in the proportion "marrying up" combined with a small increase in "marrying down".
The biggest increase has been among those marrying within their own social class.
IPPR director Nick Pearce said class had "tightened its grip" on families.
"This shift has implications for inequality, as well-educated, higher earners marry each other and pass on the fruits of their success to their children," the Guardian quoted Pearce as saying.
Part of an ongoing IPPR project on how women's aspirations have changed, the report showed most women continue to pick husbands older than themselves but fewer are choosing partners one or two years older and more are now marrying partners three or more years older.
The biggest growth has been among husbands seven or more years older, which has almost doubled across the generations to a fifth of the married women born between 1976-1981.
More than one in three born in 1958 had a partner in the same social class as themselves but almost as many - 38 percent- married into a higher class. Just 23 percent of women born in 1958 married into a lower class.
For those born in 1970, the picture changed. Nearly half, 45 percent, married into the same class with 32 percent marrying "up". They were still, at 23 percent, no more likely to have a partner from a lower social class than women born in 1958.
The latest generation, born between 1976-1981, were far more likely to have married into the same class - 56 percent - and notably less likely to have a partner from a higher social class - 16 percent. Most significantly, more than a quarter have married a partner of a lower social class than themselves - 28 percent.
To academics, picking a partner similar to yourself is known as "assortative mating".
Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said there was no evidence such marriages were less likely to end in divorce, but it was understandable people might think so.
"It's not to say that a marriage won't work between different class backgrounds, but there's an underlying feeling that there might be more conflicts, at a time of high divorce rates," Cooper said.
"There is also at the moment an intrinsic insecurity for women; they're being hardest hit by financial insecurity which is maybe pushing them towards choices based on stability and security - a nice older guy, with a good income and a relatively stable job, in uncertain times. Maybe the older guy has been divorced already and doesn't want to do it again," he said.
Social scientist Catherine Hakim, author of 'Honey Money', also commented on this phenomenon.
"There is plenty of evidence that most women aspire to marry a wealthy man. But it is a logical impossibility for all women to marry the same few rich guys. So everyone else - the 'losers' in the marriage rat race - has to marry equal or down," Hakim said.
"As women become better educated, and start to outnumber men among higher education students, it becomes impossible for all to marry an even more highly educated and high-earning spouse, so they are increasingly forced to marry equal or down.
"This is going to have a huge impact in the long term, as wives become equal earners to husbands, even higher earners. So sometimes couples will decide that it should be the husband who stays at home to look after the kids and the home, and you get an increase in role-reversal households," she added.
According to Hakim, such families suffer higher divorce rates. (ANI)
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