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Publication #FAR3110

Changing Economic Face of Marriage1

Carol Church2

Figure 1. 
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The time-honored but flexible institution of marriage has been through many changes over the past 30 or so years. Of course, the world itself has changed enormously since the early 1970s. One major difference is that women have joined the workforce in huge numbers; women’s educational achievement has also increased dramatically (Cohn & Fry, 2010).

In 2010, the Pew Research Center issued a report that examines how women’s increasing workforce participation and education levels have transformed the economics of marriage. Their numbers reveal that while in 1970 only a tiny percentage of wives between 30 and 44 made more money than their husbands, by 2007 nearly a quarter of women in this age group out-earned their spouses. And while men used to be quite likely to be more educated than their wives, these days quite a few men are married to women more educated than they are [1]. This trend will surely continue since more women than men now graduate from college (Cohn & Fry, 2010).

There have been other changes, too. Back in 1970, people of all education levels married about equally, but today college graduates are significantly more likely to tie the knot than those without a diploma (Cohn & Fry, 2010).

These changes mean that, on the whole, married people are now more financially secure than single people (Cohn & Fry, 2010). In today's world, it seems many marriages now consist of educated wives and husbands who work as a breadwinning team, facing the changing landscape of marriage together.

Listening, learning. and living together, it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at

[1] In marriages between people ages 30 to 44, members are equally educated 53% of the time, while the woman is more educated 28% of the time and the man is more educated 19% of the time. These last two percentages have basically reversed since 1970 (Cohn & Fry, 2010).

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Cohn, D., & Fry, R. (2010). Women, men, and the new economics of marriage. Retrieved from



This document is FAR3110, one of a series of the Department of Family Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date February 2011, as program 1605. Published on EDIS May 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.