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Record Percentage of Americans Have Never Married


American women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor's degrees. New research says well-educated women are also no longer paying a "marriage penalty." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

American women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor's degrees. New research says well-educated women are also no longer paying a "marriage penalty." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Wendy Wang has studied changes in the American family for many years. But she says even she was surprised by some recent census data about Americans between the ages of 24 and 35.

“Almost half of them have never been married.”

That percentage is a record low for the United States.

Ms. Wang is a researcher with the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC. The center’s new report on marriage shows another important change. It found that women who continued their education beyond college are now just as likely to be married as women who never went to college. In 1960, Ms. Wang says, women with advanced degrees paid a “marriage penalty.” About one in three never married.

Today, she says, women are overall better educated than men, and they are looking for husbands with steady jobs. At the same time, the job market for men is getting worse.

Amanda Bradford believes she has a solution. Ms. Bradford is the founder of an online application for high-achieving people interested in meeting other high-achievers. This dating app is called The League. It is launching in San Francisco this week. Soon, it will be available in other cities, including New York, London, Budapest, and Buenos Aires.

Not everyone is invited to join. Ms. Bradford says The League considers applicants’ Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Users see other users’ education history and job title, along with their pictures.

Some media stories about The League have called it “elitist” or “snobby.” But Amanda Bradford says The League is just trying to give its users more information about potential dates. She says people in her generation – people born in the 1980s and early 1990s – do not have time to meet each other in person.

“We need a way to efficiently find a couple different people that may fit what we’re looking for and then meet them, versus the old fashioned way of just going out with friends and hoping and praying that you may meet your Prince Charming, you know, at someone’s party.”

Ms. Bradford is 29 years old -- the same age as the average user of The League. She says she was raised to pursue a perfect career more than a perfect spouse. She adds that her male friends would probably say the same thing.

But what about the differences Wendy Wang described between what women and men were looking for? In the Pew Study, most never-married women said they wanted to find a man with a good job. But never-married men said finding a woman who would be a good mother was more important.

Amanda Bradford said her studies showed something even more interesting. Nearly equal numbers of women and men have signed up for The League. And, she said, the better educated a man was, the more interested he was in finding an educated, career-oriented woman.

Wendy Wang would probably not be surprised by Ms. Bradford’s finding. Her study showed it is now men who did not go to college who face a “marriage penalty.” Today, they are the ones most likely not to be married.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

* Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this report. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in this Story

steady - adj. continuing for a long time in a dependable way

high-achieving - adj. successful

elitist - adj. regarding other people as inferior because they do not have power or wealth

snobby - adj. disapproving

Prince Charming - n. a man who would be a perfect husband or boyfriend

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Which is more important to you right now -- finding the right job, or finding the right husband or wife? Tell us why in the comments section below.

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