“It’s hard for everybody” is the comforting phrase of comradery women of all races, colors, and creeds say to one another as they relay the perils of dating, but as it turns out it’s actually harder for some than others and Black women happen to be the ones getting the short end of the eligible bachelor stick.
Numerous relationship articles in recent years have alleged a shortage of “marriageable” men and researchers from The Brookings Institute set out to find just how true that hypothesis is. Unfortunately, the news isn’t good for us. In short, study authors Isabel V. Sawhill and Joanna Venator determined, “If there is a shortage of marriageable men, it is most apparent among blacks and the highly educated of both races.”
How exactly did the authors reach this conclusion? By examining gender ratios that consider the employment of both men and women, as well as whether there are children from previous relationships, as indicators of marriageability. Other indicators of male economic potential, including employment, earnings, and not being incarcerated, were also considered.
“Breaking down marriage markets by education tells a somewhat surprising story: it is the group of women who have the highest marriage rates — college-educated women — who are facing the greatest “shortage” of men. In fact, using the conventional measure of marriageability — the ratio of employed men to all women — there are only 85 men for every 100 women among 25- to 35-year-old college-educated adults. In contrast, for every employed, childless woman with a high school diploma, there are over 2.5 comparable men,” the authors wrote.
Rising educations levels for women are largely the cause of this disparity whereas increasing incarceration rates, as a recent New York Times article on “1.5 Million Missing Black Men” recently pointed out, are the cause for the dismal outlook for black women.
“Only when we look at the number of men compared to childless women (whether employed or not) is the gender ratio among black Americans favorable to women. In contrast, white women have no shortage of options — even the ratio of employed men to all women is slightly more favorable to women than to men. The lack of marriageable men in the black community is affected by the very high rates of incarceration and early death among black men compared to white men. Among black male high school dropouts, 60 percent will be dead or incarcerated before the age of 35.”
That statistic is far more troubling than the idea of never jumping the broom. And while the Brookings’ authors acknowledge their conclusions are simplistic they do, at least, explain why women keep asking, “Where are all the good men??” For others who are asking how to restore marriage rates to figures we haven’t seen since the late ’60s, the study authors say move on.
“What matters for children is the stability of relationships, the maturity of their parents, and their desire to take on one of the most important tasks any adult ever undertakes. Historically, marriage has been the institution which promoted these goals. For some, it will continue to do so. But it is only a proxy for what matters more: the quality of parenting, the stability of a child’s environment, and the circumstances of her birth.”
Check out the full research paper here. What do you think?