As much as I’d like to think that income and social status have no influence on who I choose to date or enter into a relationship with, there is a question mark when I look back at my past relationships. If socioeconomic status has no bearing on who I become interested in or view as a potential partner, why has this aspect stayed virtually the same throughout my life?
The lack of variability in social and economic status could be a function of circumstance and environment: like attracts like, and society divides along income and profession. I’ve rarely been in the position to date a man of a lower social status. In the cases I have, the guy’s education or intelligence more than made up for his lack of income or acquired wealth. In the balance between social and economic factors, all was even.
Being a woman, this sort of pattern is expected. Since most people believe that women care more about a man’s bank account (or future bank account) than his heart or mind, my relationship patterns would reflect the average woman’s. But it’s been my experience that my background is not the norm: many women date men of a lower economic status than themselves.
Pew Research Center, a research group which analyzes social trends and information in the United States, has compiled some interesting data on the matter. They found that in the past few decades American women have been increasingly marrying men of a lower income. Even more noteworthy is that there are now more women married to men with less education than there are men married to women with less education.
Current data follows a trend of gender disparities in higher education that favor women, but it doesn’t appear to be a result of this trend. Women have only outpaced men in education in the last decade; this turnaround wouldn’t have a great effect on marriage today. It seems women aren’t so keen on a guy’s wallet after all, or else they haven’t been very successful in getting the men with the most money and potential.
Considering the recent trends, it’s likely that the economics of marriage will continue in this direction which is in sharp contrast to trends of just a few decades ago. And unless my relationship patterns change substantially, experiences like mine will become even more of the exception.
How does socioeconomic status factor into who you choose to be involved with? Does social and economic status influence who you consider for dating and marriage?
- Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage — Pew Research’s report
- Hyphenated Surnames and Stay-at-Home Moms