Why American men are getting less marriageable

There was a time when marriage was the end goal, and when a couple was joined in matrimony, it was forever. However, in recent years, the institution of marriage has changed dramatically. Divorce rates are up, marriage is no longer just between a man and a woman (in most progressive states and countries), and some people are just choosing not to get married at all. There is a significant marriage decline in the US, and there are many reasons for this, but it seems that men are becoming less appealing partners!


In the period between 1979 – 2008 there was a noticeable fall in the number of marriages. The amount of young women who were currently married dropped 10% among those with higher education, 15% for those with some higher education, and a huge 20% for women with a high-school education or less. What this is down to is not entirely certain, but there are some theories.

Women’s rights

There are some people who believe that the increase in women’s rights has a lot to do with the incredible drop in marriages in over a half for the last 50 years. Female empowerment is allowing women to realize that they can aim for more than just marriage, or that not getting married does not mean that they have failed as women. Another theory is that the normalization of divorce has left a lot of people, particularly those that have a jaded view of marriage after being brought up in a broken home, reluctant to tie the knot.

Maybe men are the issue?

Interestingly, there have been a lot of theories that suggest that men are just less appealing now! Generally speaking, these are economic forces, although it’s safe to assume that there are a number of factors at play, and perhaps the increase in women’s rights and the way we as a culture view marriage doesn’t help matters. But mainly, it’s the men!

Marriage and employability

A study by David Dorn from the University of Zurich found that employability and marriageability are intrinsically linked. As the number of blue-collar gigs has declined (since 1980 a full third of manufacturing jobs!) it seems as though marriage rates and fertility in young adults declines too. Blue collar jobs are seen as well-paid, and a little dangerous, which are seemingly attractive features to potential wives. Towns with more manufacturing jobs seem to have a high marriage rate than those who do not.

Money and marriage

In the US norms around money, marriage and gender are still very traditional. There are many homes where the man is the primary breadwinner, but it is still relatively uncommon for the wife to earn the most significant share of the income. There are several issues here. For one, the gender pay gap is undoubtedly a factor, and so it would be harder, generally speaking, for a woman to earn as much as a man in a similar position. However, studies have been shown that in relationships where the female makes more money than the male, there are issues. This could be because men feel emasculated by being out-earned by their female partners, or the females feeling as though men who earn less than them are underachievers.

So whether it’s money, employment or feminism, it’s certain that the trend in marriages is on the decline in the US. If you want to tie the knot gentlemen, it seems you will have to up your game!

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