How earnings influence a woman's decision to wed

Why are more women opting out of marrying? Now, they have less of a financial incentive: The increases in their earnings relative to men’s mean that getting married doesn’t provide quite the same opportunity to improve one’s economic status in the way that it once did. Shenhav finds that for every 10 percent increase in women’s wages relative to men’s (roughly the size of the increase between 1980 and 2010), there’s a 5.3 percentage-point decline in the probability that any given woman will get married. Increased wages mean that women become likely to work more hours (since each hour of work becomes more lucrative) and to be financially independent.

This increase in wages also changes the calculus for women who do decide to marry, leading them to shift away from “less-desirable matches,” as the study puts it. Shenhav finds that wage growth relative to men makes women more likely to marry a man with a higher level of education and less likely to marry one whose education level falls below hers. It also makes women more likely to marry a man who is either the same age or younger, instead of marrying a man who is older.

Does this all mean that women who earn more, in general, are less likely to get married? Not quite.