In the last column I promised to look deeper into yet another significant demographic change in our country, which is that 25 percent of men are married to women with more education. Some refer to it as “marrying up” or “marrying down,” but I don’t like those terms. They seem unnecessarily derogatory, even if they are just meant as a demographic description.
There are many simple demographic factors that contribute to this change, including that there are slightly more women than men in the U.S., and more women than men are earning college degrees.
This is definitely a change from when I grew up in the 1950s and the 1960s, and when I graduated from college in 1968 (yes, 1968!). In 1968, 13.3 percent of males had college degrees, but only 8 percent of females had degrees. Contrast that with 2016, when 33.7 percent of females had college degrees, but only 33.2 percent of men had degrees. Also in 2016, when it came to the categories of having a high school degree, some college or a college degree, the percentage of women was higher. These simple facts — more women, and more educated women — seem to be two of the main reasons for women marrying men with less education. Nothing earth-shaking there!
Furthermore, this trend is increasing among more recently married couples. According to time.com, in 2012, 40 percent of college-educated women were married to a husband without a college degree. However, it turns out that another important reason is that individuals with a high school education or less are marrying less. In1960, 72 percent of those in this group were entering into marriage, when three quarters of the spouses had a high school degree or less. In 2012 it was only 46 percent. There are a number of reasons advanced for this, but let’s just leave it as a statistic for purposes of this column.
On a related subject, the percentage of two-worker families certainly has also significantly changed from when I grew up in the 1950s and 60s, when only 25 percent of married-couple families had two workers. In 2016, in over 61 percent of married-couple families, both parents were working.
The education levels of married couples clearly can have financial implications for families, especially now that there is a higher percentage of two-worker families. What long-term impact on families and the overall economy the trend of married women marrying men with less educations will have, we will have to keep watching. As I indicated in the last column, do you see this trend economically affecting families that you know, for good or for bad?
On a different subject, but one that that we have looked at before, a recent PurePoint Financial survey found that 45 percent of Americans don’t have money saved in a retirement account. The percentage just seems to grow, and that is troublesome. It is why I tell high school and college students that they must start saving NOW. It is critical to get into the habit of saving, and to become a life-long saver, as early in life as possible. I hate to keep looking back, but in the 1960s, when there were no credit cards, we basically had the money that we earned and the money that we saved. As a result, our parents made us save at a very early age. It was the only way to survive. I remember that I HAD to save a certain percentage of my earnings from my high school paper route (yes, kids had them then), and they periodically purchased General Motors stock with my savings, in order to also teach me about investing. I can’t remember what I sold it for later in life, but I know it made a difference. WE NEED TO HELP OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEARN TO SAVE!
On a final subject, I was recently asked at a CARE presentation at Churchville Chili High School why people don’t stick to their budgets. I know that we will get into this more in the future when we continue our discussions about the new book “Dollars and Sense,” but here was my answer. Your budget is the roadmap to meeting your short- and long-term financial “needs” and financial goals. Especially with respect to those financial goals, you have to “rationally” think them through, and then be really committed to them, so that you won’t divert from them. For me, it means that you have to create some good money and spending habits, on the one hand, that can help you stick to that budget, but, on the other hand, it also requires some good old-fashioned “discipline.” From my experiences in and around the bankruptcy court and otherwise, it is the discipline factor that often fails us in this “hyper consumer, keep up, enjoy life, instant gratification” world.
My next column will mark four years of writing this column. I am going to ask the Daily Messenger to run my first column to see how far we have come, if at all.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo