The simplest way to interpret this impact is suggested by the write-up the study received from the Atlantic: Great for college-educated women, pretty good for the rest of the female population, bad for men and particularly bad for working class men. Upper-class women reap a large wage premium from delaying marriage — a college-educated woman who marries in her 30s earns over $15,000 more annually than a woman who marries in her early 20s, and when you look at household income, the premium for marrying later rises to more than $20,000. Women without 4-year degrees also enjoy a wage premium when they delay marriage, albeit a smaller one (and a very small one when you look at household income). Men, meanwhile, reap a wage premium from marrying earlier, so late marriage tends to hurt their economic prospects: For men without a 4-year degree, the earlier the marriage, the higher their income, and even college-educated men earn more if they marry in their 20s than in their 30s. (This is not the only way that the burdens of the new marital landscape seem to fall heaviest on males.)
But the “good for women, bad for men” story is complicated by various factors. The cost of children, for one: While well-educated women are generally delaying marriage and childbirth, less-educated American women who wait to marry are much more likely to have a child before wedlock, which raises the chances that they’ll end up raising them with an absent or unreliable father — and with it, the chances that their wage premium will be eaten up by the price of parenting. The risk of never marrying, for another: For both the well-educated and the less-educated, marriage delayed can mean marriage forgone, and in terms of household income it makes more of a financial difference whether you marry at all than whether you marry at 27 or 31.