Gender Issues: Old Maid No More
By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger, senior at Kent Place School
Earlier this month, a report called “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America” was released. The researchers studied different socioeconomic classes to determine the average age at first marriage in each class.
The report brings up two very interesting effects that postponed marriage age has on the status of women.
- For women higher up on the socioeconomic ladder, getting married at an older age means more time to develop skills for the workplace. Postponing a family would allow a young woman to figure out what she wants to pursue in her life before settling down. These extra years provide enough time for her to really get on track towards her goal—be it economic or otherwise.
- Unfortunately, women in the working class are faced with a predicament. 58% of first births to middle Americans are outside of marriage. In other words, these women are starting families, (bringing about all of the costs of not being able to focus solely on work) but they still lack a partner to help support their children. 80% of middle Americans still aspire to get married, but it is becoming more common to marry after the first child is born. Officially, for women as a whole, the median age at first birth is 25.7 while the median age at first marriage is 26.5.
So for the college educated young women of America, this increase in marriage age is working in their favor. Only 12% of these women have children before marriage, leaving the other 88% free to either begin climbing the corporate ladder or pursue other dreams they have. Lower-middle class women, however, get the disadvantage. For them, later marriage age doesn’t mean later children age; it means later support and assistance with said children.