February 28, 2016

"It’s this notion of this growing equality between husbands and wives having this paradoxical effect of growing inequality across households."

Said University of Wisconsin sociology professor Christine Schwartz, quoted in a NYT article titled "Marriage Equality Grows, and So Does Class Divide."

The headline confused me at first, because I'm used to the term "marriage equality" referring to same-sex marriage. Here, it means that men these days tend to marry women who work at jobs that are at an equivalent economic level. It's not so much the executive marrying the secretary and the doctor marrying the nurse anymore. Executives marry executives and doctors marry doctors — in opposite-sex marriages (and in same-sex marriages too, I suppose, but that's not what the article is about).

The "class divide" in the headline is prompting us to feel bad about male-female equality in marriage, because it means that in one couple 2 high salaries are added together and the next family is stuck pooling 2 low salaries. In the old system, you could have made 2 middling economic units out of these 4 individuals, and now you've got one rich-getting-richer couple and one poor-getting-poor couple. Whatever happened to the olden days when a man being rich was like a girl being pretty? The rich man found the most beautiful woman and the family income averaged down, more like that next family.

Now, we've got "assortative mating," in which "people marry others they enjoy spending time with, and that tends to be people like themselves."

The top-rated comment is:
Let's stop relying on "non-assortative" mating as a protection against inequality, and start encouraging women and men to seek financial independence instead. This means things like fair wage laws, better support of workers, reasonable childcare policies, parental leave for women and men, and even earlier down the road, more emphasis on education and employable skills. The days of Marriage as Career Path are declining fast and in my humble opinion, that's a very good thing.
I still see potential for resurrecting the old division-of-labor model in which one spouse earns a good income and the other contributes in kind, unpaid, saving many expenses and keeping the couple's tax-bracket low. If 2 individuals marry because they are a lot alike and enjoy spending time together, should they not maximize their time? All this frenetic 2-career activity, complicated by children who must be shuttled about to childcare, with evenings soaked up in housework — why are we living like that?

Here, please read this: "The Scold/Mr. Money Mustache’s retirement (sort of) plan." Why not put all your effort into making what you need and preserving it, with frugality, and reveling in the time of your life?
Mr. Money Mustache is the alias of a forty-one-year-old Canadian expatriate named Peter Adeney, who made or, more to the point, saved enough money in his twenties, working as a software engineer, to retire at age thirty. We’re not talking millions. More like tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, which he and his wife diligently salted away at a time of life when most people are piling on debt and living beyond their means. He calculated a way to make these early paychecks last using a strategy of sensible investment and a rigorous, idiosyncratic, but relatively agreeable frugality.

He is, by his own reckoning, a wealthy man, without want, but he and his wife, who have one child, spend an average of just twenty-four thousand dollars a year. Adeney is a kind of human optimization machine, the quintessence of that urge, which is stronger in some of us than in others, to elevate principle over appetite, and to seek out better, cheaper ways of doing things. He presents thrift as liberation rather than as deprivation. Living a certain way is his life’s work. “I’ve become irrationally dedicated to rational living,” he says.

69 comments:

rhhardin said...

Isn't he your secretary?

Assistant. Executive, uh... assistant secretary. Titles. But, wouldn't be the first time one of us fell for our secretaries. Would it, Edwin? With Laquisha. Remember?


- The Proposal

rhhardin said...

Why not add up the incomes of random pairs of people instead? Then it's equal.

Unless they're going back to marriage being the traditional institution in order to complain about income inequality again.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why not add up the incomes of random pairs of people instead? Then it's equal."

This should be an app.

Get the average household income for the region where the device is located. You input your salary and it's matched to someone whose income, combined with yours, will get you to average.

It's the new "Harrison Bergeron."

PJ said...

Dear top-rated commenter: I don't think that word "independence" means what you think it means.

MayBee said...

Ha ha ha, PJ! Exactly!
Let the government/corporate benefits be your spouse.

(ps. the more emphasis on education in there didn't really fit in. There is already a lot of emphasis on education. Do you think top-rated commenter meant more emphasis on *free* college?)

Unknown said...

The quotation above encapsulates what I despise about current twee academic speech and, more often, writing. All the ideas in the sentence are crammed into a contorted noun clause that acts as the object of a preposition.

I'll leave it to the rest of you to address the muddled thinking therein.

YoungHegelian said...

Here, it means that men these days tend to marry women who work at jobs that are at an equivalent economic level.

No! Men have basically nothing to do with this. Assortative mating is driven by women almost entirely. Men look for other things in a wife other than her income potential. If a lawyer marries a charming waitress with a nice rack & legs who wants to be a mother to his children, the guy's friends don't think he's "marrying down".

Women, on the other hand, are relentless in this matter, but generally it's hidden under the guise of "I want a responsible man. I don't want to have one more, just bigger, kid to take care of". It is so ingrained in women that they will even have their affairs with men who make more money than they do, as opposed to say, the guy who can tie his penis in a knot.

If women are driving assortative mating, what social outcomes would we see? We would see men with the bottom income levels having the worst marriage prospects, &, conversely, women at the top income levels, since they would be competing for a small pool of upper income males, a pool of males who make the competition even worse by routinely marrying women from below their income level.

Guess what? That's exactly what we see.

caplight45 said...

It's a lot more complex than the article seems to indicate. Over a life span, in my case 43 years of marriage to the same woman, there are times when one of us did not work at all, when both of us worked, when I made more than she and times when she made more than me(present circumstance).

Then there is the variable of keeping the same partner over the time span of working years. Divorce, especially with children involved, is expensive and hinders wealth accumulation for most people.

Perhaps the social justice crowd could begin publicly shaming those who marry within their class. Or maybe their could be a marital tax break for those who marry someone in a socio-economic class lower than their own. I'm sure the IRS could have an office of marital diversity taxation. Perhaps their should be affirmative action goals to be achieved through tax incentives. I see endless possibilities for government intervention and social engineering and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

caplight45 said...

I just realized that twice in my post above I typed "their" when it should have been "there." I have no excuse but lack of caffeine.

YoungHegelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YoungHegelian said...

This also reminds me of something Andrew Sullivan said years ago, when he was still sane, after he watched the end of the run of the reality series "The Bachelor", & the woman is clearly disappointed to discover that the man who was supposed to be a venture capitalist is actually a construction worker. Sullivan said "We should have a gay bachelor series, where the guy can be disappointed that his construction worker boyfriend is actually a venture capitalist.".

Titus said...

My husband and I make decent money-him more than be, but we are financially independent-unless I need some money!

We have our own bank accounts, lofts, etc.

Everyone I work with is married to someone at their same income and education level.

Most of them met in college-whether Bachelors, Masters, Phd.

They have the same interests-economics, public policy, higher ed, etc.

So Economists marry Economists and MBA's marry MBA's-from top tier schools.

They have chldren and my employer allows the wife a flexible schedule, until she is ready to go back full-time.

They also receive salary increases and or promotions every year.

mezzrow said...

Thanks for the pointer to Mr Mustache guy. A kindred soul. I have the same feeling I had when someone once told me to go listen to Clark Howard because his voice and accent sounded exactly like me. He was right (it's eerie to listen to someone who sounds exactly like you, btw), and an analysis of Clark's background confirmed why (southern + just enough midwest = the way we sound).

Clark was also saying the same stuff I seem to be saying to people all the time. I'll go look Mr. Mustache up.

PJ said...

May Bee: It takes a lot of education to get otherwise sensible people to support enforced redistribution as a means of achieving independence.

n.n said...

The modern usage of "marriage equality" refers to the application of the pro-choice doctrine to selectively exclude politically unfavorable associations from normalization under the rainbow paradigm.

The reference to husband and wife equality is a creation of the social complex and female chauvinists that have a predisposition to create, exaggerate, or extrapolate to realize deceptive historical truths for purposes of political, social, and economic leverage.

Laslo Spatula said...

It is a shame that everything gets lost in who-makes-more and who-does-more, rather than simply being a family and everyone pulling together.

I chronicle such a family, making their way AS a family, in the hard times of the Old West: "The Cocksucking Cocksuckers of Cocksucker Valley."


I am Laslo.

MayBee said...

PJ- (re)education

MayBee said...

I also agree with YoungHegelian. This is from women choosing mates who are "equal" to them in career, education, and finances. Men don't put as much emphasis on that.

jaydub said...

How could $24K per year be a living wage for Mr Money Mustache? That's only $11.50/hr. Everyone knows it takes at least $15/hr.

Birches said...

So as long as the two Drs pay their nanny and landscaper 15/hr,the problem is solved,NYT commenter? These people are clueless.

SGT Ted said...

This means things like fair wage laws, better support of workers, reasonable childcare policies, parental leave for women and men,...

Which means fewer jobs for anyone due to higher labors costs for employers and thus more structural income inequality.

Leftist regulation consumes wealth.

SGT Ted said...

Unrestrained female hypergamy drives all of this.

Michael K said...

" women are driving assortative mating,"

I also agree. However, I do see another trend among women doctors. This is the woman who marries a man with an occupation that allows better shared child care. Lots of women doctors and medical students, some of them my students, who marry firemen or policemen or paramedics because they can trade days to take care of kids.

I don't know how much this affects women in other occupations as the income is probably seen as less secure.

The other thing driving "assortive mating" is consumption and that gets to the article. Two incomes allow more spending and many of these people are not interested in kids.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The top comment is simply "!ets ignore this problem--if reality were different it would not be as much of a problem, so instead of paying attention to reality we should focus on one possible unreality instead."

Is it unfair to notice that kind of "argument" is exactly the kind President Obama favors? ”There are those who say when pursuing competing goals (like equality, freedom of association, and economic prosperity) but I say no, trade offs don't exist, and anyway should be ignored."

daskol said...

Why not put all your effort into making what you need and preserving it, with frugality, and reveling in the time of your life?

Is putting all that effort into frugality really reveling in the time of your life? I suppose it is if you're one of the lucky folks for whom optimization is its own reward. Where frugality comes naturally, or optimization is inherently rewarding, you are already talking about Reynold's Law. May Mr. Mustache's cult inspire the rest of us.

Mike said...

The article is a fascinating look at our changing society. Too bad it is filled with social justice criticism.

EDH said...

Polygamy is the answer, no?

mtrobertslaw said...

Bernie will end this "marriage equality" business between two high income partners once and for all with a single executive order.

EDH said...

Either polygamy or everyone should start a political consulting firm named "(something clever) Strategies".

That always seems to bring in the big bucks.

rehajm said...

NYT Woman Bitches That Man She's Attracted to At the Office Loves His Secretary; Woman Browbeats Man Into Submission, Bitches About Outcome.

Bruce Hayden said...

No! Men have basically nothing to do with this. Assortative mating is driven by women almost entirely. Men look for other things in a wife other than her income potential. If a lawyer marries a charming waitress with a nice rack & legs who wants to be a mother to his children, the guy's friends don't think he's "marrying down".

I think that the problem is that for the most part, young adults marry the people that they spend time with. That is first undergraduate, then graduate school, then work. And, the first chance that the cute secretary or nurse has to win over a guy with to earning potential is at work. But, even then, they are at a disadvantage. Why? They aren't peers, but instead are competing against women who are peers of the guys in question.

What has changed? I think that by the time I was in college (year ahead of Ann), there was a lot of marriage from college, but the women were mostly not going to grad school, but getting married and helping their husband through grad school. Now, unless you are looking at engineering, or maybe physics, there tend to be more women than men in the more lucrative grad schools. Which makes the competition for the guys intense. One of the worst apparently is Harvard B School, which apparently has a lot of guys who have already made a bit of money. The competition fr them is intense, and they have little incentive to look beyond the school for a mate, as a result. High school girls, looking at college, actually look carefully at sex ratios these days when picking colleges.

The first part of this assortive mating is opportunity, driven by who young males spend their time around. A second part is that of affinity. My kid is in their mid twenties, and is working on a STEM PhD. Most of their friends are in some sort of grad school. I expect that those who stopped after their undergraduate degree are also assorting. My partner got a dance degree, then got married and started having kids. My previous significant others mostly had graduate degrees. And intellectually, there is a difference. Sometimes a big one. Her immediate predecessor is an attorney, and I remember verbally jousting for most of an hour before she admitted it, and then I did, when we first met. Instant connection. There is always something in common, and, thus, a comfort level. And I met the predecessors of that woman in my life on software projects (in my previous career).

This is a long way of saying that the girls who don't keep up with the guys they want to marry are mostly going to lose to the women who do. And after the latter have had their shot, many/most of the better catches will be gone.

Terry said...

"Let's stop relying on "non-assortative" mating as a protection against inequality, and start encouraging women and men to seek financial independence instead."
People weren't meant to be independent. Why is the modern goal not to need any other human being for anything, and not to be needed for anything?

Simon Kenton said...

'Now, we've got "assortative mating," in which "people marry others they enjoy spending time with, and that tends to be people like themselves."'

I married someone I did not enjoy spending time with, and assortative or not (it was), financially hypertrophic or not (it wasn't), it was the pits. The idea that we should be marrying some one we don't enjoy spending time with for the greater good of social equality is one of those illustrations that for truly chasmic, Mariana-Trench stupidity you need a high IQ, or preferably, a committee of high IQs.

Mr Moneymustache's point is that no matter what level you are on you can save enough that your dollars, set to work, and your frugality, well-exercised, can eventually set you free. The people who read his site get this, set themselves to it, and illustrate it. Some sooner, some later, but they make it. I did, long before there was a public Mr Moneymustache. My pink-haired little niece, barely in her 30s and barely middle-class in salary, has a 50% savings rate and 2 houses. That they do make it, and those who rely on social policy unchanged since the 1930s do not, is universally ignored by his critics.

Sebastian said...

"why are we living like that?" Money. Status. "Equality" (i.e., actual equality as actually interpreted by actual "feminists").

If (if) over the past two generations, as more careers opened to talents and more talents were free to pursue careers, jobs have become a better proxy for IQ + positive personal qualities, the relative benefit of assortative mating as an information-saving matching strategy would have increased, especially at the top. So it might have increased even with small shifts in actual preferences.

Danno said...

I have come across Mr. Money Mustache from time to time, even bookmarking it, but he tends to be a little overboard on the frugality thing. I hope Ann doesn't get too enthralled by MMMM or else we might start seeing her blogposts coming from her new tiny house in the development on East Washington in Madison. I tend to follow the "Millionaire Next Door" approach to financial independence and wealth accumulation.

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

Youngheglian stated "Men have basically nothing to do with this. Assortative mating is driven by women almost entirely. Men look for other things in a wife other than her income potential. If a lawyer marries a charming waitress with a nice rack & legs who wants to be a mother to his children, the guy's friends don't think he's "marrying down"."

Sounds like old think to me. Not only are today's 20/30 somethings concerned about income, student debt has killed more than one relationship.A big chested waitress with a tiny income is one thing, a big chested waitress with a tiny income and $50,000+ debt is another. There is also the snob factor. In certain groups a waitress with high debt may be acceptable as long as she has a masters in art and is waiting for her big break. That same group would not be as accepting of a female plumber earning $100,000 plus who only completed high school - no matter how big her rack.

If anyone bothered to read through to the end, Mr. Moustache is earning $400,000 annually from his blog alone. Yet he was torn over allowing his son (who struggles socially) to attend a children's gathering because there was a $20 buy in. He disagreed with the child having to purchase new game cards. Sounds like he is obsessed to the point of cruelty.

Ann Althouse said...

YoungHegelian said..."'Here, it means that men these days tend to marry women who work at jobs that are at an equivalent economic level.' No! Men have basically nothing to do with this. Assortative mating is driven by women almost entirely. Men look for other things in a wife other than her income potential. If a lawyer marries a charming waitress with a nice rack & legs who wants to be a mother to his children, the guy's friends don't think he's "marrying down"."

Are you 80 years old? You're saying something that the people I knew in college — 40 years ago — would have scoffed at. Maybe I'm in an elite segment of American culture, but I think that guy's friends would think why are you marrying her? Lawyer men tend to marry lawyer women these days and to think they should be equals. And by "these days," I mean my entire adult life... and I'm 65 years old.

Ann Althouse said...

"They have chldren and my employer allows the wife a flexible schedule, until she is ready to go back full-time."

They'd better have the same for the husband!

Terry said...

Althouse wrote: "And by "these days," I mean my entire adult life... and I'm 65 years old."
Were you East Coast lawyer when you first married? Or Midwest? I apologize if this is too personal.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have come across Mr. Money Mustache from time to time, even bookmarking it, but he tends to be a little overboard on the frugality thing. I hope Ann doesn't get too enthralled by MMMM or else we might start seeing her blogposts coming from her new tiny house in the development on East Washington in Madison. I tend to follow the "Millionaire Next Door" approach to financial independence and wealth accumulation."

I've been interested in those ideas since the days of "The Tightwad Gazette" and "Your Money or Your Live," both of which are mentioned in the New Yorker article about Mr. Money Mustache. Meade has independently been interested in these ideas since he was a young man.

We both value time and freedom.

As for a "tiny house"... you should note that Mr. Money Mustache likes having a big house and is not a tiny house guy. Meade and I are interested in great modern design in a well-laid out smaller house, but we live in a big old house and see reason to stay in it.

I think MMM's point is about being very aware of the choices what to spend your money on.

And by the way, the Tightwad Gazette lady wanted a big family and a big house. Those were her choices.

What do you save on? It could be travel, but some people put travel first and scrimp on everything else. It could be the house or the car or clothes. It could be eating out. Save where it works for you. Do it yourself on the things that make sense for you (e.g., cooking, childcare, housework). It's about being rational and not accepting any of the choices as given and recognizing that all you really have is your time. What are you doing with it? Trading it for money? Then throwing the money away on stuff? When are you really living? Why are you not living and loving life nearly all the time?

That's what Meade and I talk about.

Ann Althouse said...

"Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century."

"The Complete Tightwad Gazette."

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

@MichaelK

" women are driving assortative mating,"

Funny, for years we were told that men did NOT want a higher earning woman, that it made them feel less manly.What is driving the men who agree to marry these women doctors? Plenty of colleges now have more female than male attendees. By men opting out of college aren't they forcing women to change their criteria or remain single? Both male and female attitudes have changed. Even in the 1980's you would have male police in NYC (considered middle class) marry women from the projects (poor) who would become stay at home moms and lead a mostly middle class life style. That does not happen today. A male police officer must marry another middle income earner to live a middle class lifestyle. As more women become doctors, there are less male doctors for them to marry. Guess who they meet at work, police, fire and emt. Since those professions almost all require college now that makes them more socially acceptable than the male janitor. The hours are just a bonus.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse wrote: "And by "these days," I mean my entire adult life... and I'm 65 years old." Were you East Coast lawyer when you first married? Or Midwest? I apologize if this is too personal."

I married my college sweetheart (upon graduation from college). We both scoffed at middle class life. I wanted to paint and he wanted to write novels. College was Michigan. We moved to NYC, to Manhattan. He'd grown up in the Bronx. We were artists with day jobs and eventually, 5 years down that road, I decided to go to law school... mostly because I felt verbally impoverished and because I wanted to do something that would get us on track to have a couple of children. I had one child in the third year of law school and another child 2 years after that. I worked as a law clerk in NYC for a year and then as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell for 2 years (the first year of which I was pregnant and the second year of which I was looking for the teaching job that got me out of there). S&C is a big Wall Street law firm, as you may know. Anyway, we lit out together for Madison, Wisconsin, and we had ideas of living well together in a beautiful place with lots of control over our time. Unfortunately, the marriage broke up 2 years later, but we were definitely kindred spirits with shared goals, clearly equals in education, intelligence, and values. The lawyer thing was a brief phase, a transition. Being a law professor, on the other hand, has been a wonderful way of life, and it has been possible for me to retain my artist soul, despite the weirdness and mismatchedness. The blog set me free and somehow got me another kindred spirit, and not a day comes that I don't feel extremely lucky.

Laslo Spatula said...

"The blog set me free and somehow got me another kindred spirit, and not a day comes that I don't feel extremely lucky."

Good comment and good fortune.

I am Laslo.

Robt C said...

When I was working I would semi-jocularly state that one of my goals in life was to be the secondary breadwinner. My wife was a professional as well, and in no way was I threatened by the thought of her making more than me. (Never happened, BTW -- darn it) I find it astonishing when I meet highly accomplished men who see a higher-salaried wife as somehow a bad thing. The most recent case is a gent who's president of a large division. But then, he's a tri-athlete so maybe it's just a competitive thing. He won't let her win when they run or cycle either.

mccullough said...

Over 40% of kids are born to single parents. Marriage is getting to be an institution of the upper income. Lot of factors that go into that but the culture is what it is with illegitimacy rates, divorce rates, etc. Soon many people will stop going to college since it's not worth it for most people. College and marriage will be for the upper income.

But people will still be having sex and kids, but the fertility rate will decrease to European levels. And so will the attendance of church. We'll have a secular society with low employment, low income, low births, low marriage, high crime and high debt. It will be the worst of Europe and Africa.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I've known a few MD couples and always got the vibe that they didn't like each other much. They did enjoy the status of being Mr. & Ms. MD and were fiercely concentrated on raising successful children, but I saw few signs of the simple affectionate exchanges that are the tell of a happy marriage. As has been noted by others, I think a healthy relationship is one where there is the flexibility to bring different things at different times to the relationship as needed. And, hopefully, YH can introduce me to that waitress.

William said...

A doctor I knew made the joke that doctors marry bar maids, call girls, or nurses because those are the women they spend the most time with, and propinquity is the dominant factor in choosing a mate..........Pehaps this is an unintended consequence of opening up professional careers to women. Doctors still marry nurses, but the nurses have become doctors. Ditto with legal secretaries who have become lawyers.....This is nothing new. For many centuries aristocrats married aristocrats. It was against the law for them not to marry aristocrats. For the first two generations the Rothschilds not only married rich women, they married rich Rothschilld relatives. It helps to keep the money in the family if you marry within the family........The incest laws should be relaxed. It would be so great if Donald Trump could find a mate whose genes were comparable to his own. Maybe if he becomes president, he can push towards an easement. There was a precedent set by FDR who kept his marriage and some of his affairs within the family.

Original Mike said...

I saved aggressively during my working career, cognizant that the future was uncertain. When the future intruded, it allowed me to retire. I'm spending more in retirement than I did while working. Not extravagantly, that's not me. But I've got the money to enjoy interesting pursuits.

"Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later."

Jupiter said...

'Said University of Wisconsin sociology professor Christine Schwartz, quoted in a NYT article titled "Marriage Equality Grows, and So Does Class Divide."'

What I want to know, is when did we, as a society, agree to be taxed so that something called a "sociology professor" might exist and even flourish? Who supposed that professors of sociology were a public good?

Freeman Hunt said...

Smart men want smart women, but they rarely care about credentials.

Char Char Binks said...

Everything went downhill after women got the vote.

Michael K said...

" the girls who don't keep up with the guys they want to marry are mostly going to lose to the women who do. "

My first wife was a college student with me and we were very young. I went to medical school and she wanted to be the stay-at-home wife with a nice house. I worked after class to make extra money and she had a nice house and a maid by the time I was a third year surgery resident.

What broke up that marriage was my ambition to go east for my surgery training and maybe an academic career. At that time an academic career was out unless you trained in one of the big east coast programs. She would not leave LA. So, we stayed and I finished and went into practice in a suburb where she had everything she wanted.

A few years later, it wasn't enough and we divorced. I married the proverbial nurse. We had blended families and lots of stress and split up #2.

Now, 25 years later, we are back together. Wife #1 is a friend and had a career in banking after the divorce but I always resented (even though I didn't realize how much) giving up ambition to suit her wishes.

Life is what happens when you are making plans.

Jupiter said...

"Feminism" is something new in the world, that seeks to rationalize the most fundamental of human relations. Rather like the French Revolution. It should not be surprising if the results turn out to be somewhat different than advertised.

Women supposed, that since men controlled everything, the things men had must be the best things to have. So they set about getting those things, with considerable success. They neglected the facts that
a) Men aren't all that happy with those things. They mostly get them to attract women. And in any case,
b) Women aren't men.

Men and women are two different kinds of thing, that require each other in order to reproduce. The asymmetry of their reproductive roles leads to asymmetry in many other things. At the same time, there are limits to how different the sexes can become, given that they share all but one chromosome.

It is conceivable that the advances we have made, as a society, in the control of material goods, have altered the calculus of reproduction to the point where it is evolutionarily sound for women to behave more like men. But if that were the case, the evidence would be that such women have more children. What seems more likely is that the female genome is optimal for the traditional society in which it evolved. It didn't matter much what women wanted, when they couldn't get it, so it was not shaped much by evolutionary pressure. But they can get it now, and evolution will take note.

Where it will all lead, I can't even imagine. I kind of suspect that people will revert to being people. Either by our society moving back toward normal relations between the sexes, or by our society being replaced by one with normal relations between the sexes.

ken in tx said...

After two failed marriages, I made a deliberate search for a woman whose earning potential was at least as great as mine. We have swapped places, from time to time being the greatest earner. Right now I bring in more. We have now been married 31 years.

holdfast said...

First, of course the author's prescription to fix all these ills is MOAR SOCIALISM Just like the cure for GlowBall Worming is MOAR SOCIALISM! And the cure for everything else from toe fungus to hemorrhoids is MOAR SOCIALISM!

holdfast said...

Living in a town with a lot of these assortive marriages I'd note two other problems:

1) It's really hard to run a family when both adults are working crazy banker/lawyer/young doctor hours. Even if you have a nanny, gardener and housecleaner, those people need to be managed, paid, replaced etc., and the kids activities need to be organized, etc.

2) After a while, one spouse will tend to drop out of the workforce to stay home and run the family. That's usually the woman. When that woman is a lawyer, ad exec or banker, that's fine - who cares about lawyers, ad execs and bankers? But when she's a doctor, that's really not good - that's 10 years of med school and training that is going to waste. And another doctor missing from the health system.

holdfast said...

"Smart men want smart women, but they rarely care about credentials."

So. Much. This.

Birches said...


"What do you save on? It could be travel, but some people put travel first and scrimp on everything else. It could be the house or the car or clothes. It could be eating out. Save where it works for you. Do it yourself on the things that make sense for you (e.g., cooking, childcare, housework). It's about being rational and not accepting any of the choices as given and recognizing that all you really have is your time. What are you doing with it? Trading it for money? Then throwing the money away on stuff? When are you really living? Why are you not living and loving life nearly all the time?"


I love this.

YoungHegelian said...

@Althouse,

Are you 80 years old? You're saying something that the people I knew in college — 40 years ago — would have scoffed at. Maybe I'm in an elite segment of American culture, but I think that guy's friends would think why are you marrying her?

Well, I'm almost 60, and, unlike you as a NYC lawyer & an academic, I've worked in IT since 1980, a profession which is about 85% male, and I've heard plenty about what men want in a woman.

You are right about lawyers & their mating ways, Professor, But lawyers are, of all the professions I have serviced as an IT consultant since 1991, the most given to be deliberate social climbers. Lawyer men, & especially lawyer women, really do think about these things & choose their mates, just like their cars, their private schools, and their neighborhoods, accordingly. Most of the rest of humanity, aside from sugar babies & golddiggers, not so much.

TangoMan said...

This means things like fair wage laws, better support of workers, reasonable childcare policies, parental leave for women and men, and even earlier down the road, more emphasis on education and employable skills.

That top-rated comment is a perfect illustration of how people rely on bromides to guide them in their view of the world even when the bromides are silly.

Childcare policies require cheaply paid women to supervise children. This is of little help for low income women. We need to understand this from a systemic view - government subsidizing cheap child care so that poor women can go to work to earn low wages isn't an actual solution to a problem for that child care subsidy has to come out of your taxes.

Parental leave requires an army of temporary workers who fill in for a few months and then get fired. I've always been struck by the injustice of having to fire a temporary worker who is filling in for a woman on maternity leave when the employer is actually happier with the work of the temp than the woman who is on maternity leave. Any sensible person should realize that you never give your boss, or anyone, an opportunity to compare you to someone else if your boss has it within his authority to fire you because they prefer the other. You're much better off not allowing the boos to have that information. Or your lover. Or your friend. Back to the point - while parental leave is good for the employee, how is it good for the replacement? Does this do anything to create a more equal society?

More emphasis on education. Again, missing the mark. Labor economists study the returns to education and the studies do show returns. However, when cognitive ability is controlled in these studies, the returns to credentialed education fall drastically. Employers want to hire intelligent people. Your credential in feminist oppression studies, while education of a sort, is of absolutely zero value to an employee. Putting people on the education treadmill is no magic solution. Learning marketable skills will help, but even here, returns to cognitive ability are higher than returns to skills.

I have no idea what fair wage laws are, because the definition usually depends on the person's ideology. To me a fair wage is an employer offers me a wage, if I accept the job offer, then we've struck a fair bargain. Seems fair to me. I also have no idea what "better support of workers" means, so I can't pick that apart.

This comment being top-rated is a sad testimony to people simply relying on ideological talking points, most of which are nonsensical and most of which are a form of wishful thinking, in place of analyzing a problem. Of the suggested solution, I don't see merit in any of them being useful to address the problem of inter-family inequality.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Smart men want smart women, but they rarely care about credentials.

Will third this.

My husband has two master's degrees and makes a great living as an executive in a midsize tech company who consults/writes/speaks on the side. He could have chosen a similar woman--he's handsome and funny and accomplished and surrounded by single thirtysomething women with impressive educations and careers--but he didn't want the DINK or nanny+housekeeper+gardener lifestyle. He wanted a smart, well-read woman who can carry on an intelligent conversation, serve as his number one advisor and sounding board and who loves to keep a pleasant home and raise happy, grounded children. He doesn't think that my not having finished college detracts from my ability to do this.

I have known lots of marriages like this, even in my generation (born in 1980).

Michael K said...

But when she's a doctor, that's really not good - that's 10 years of med school and training that is going to waste. And another doctor missing from the health system.

Most of the women doctors I know spend child years working part time and some take those years off but keep up licenses, etc. Some marry cops and EMTs and firemen who work 3 day weeks, like my son. They can work child care pretty well and most of those macho male occupations are not into jealousy about money.

One of my medical students a few years ago, who was absolutely gorgeous, married her high school boyfriend who was an auto mechanic. I assumed he had talents I had not observed.

Ann Althouse said...

"You are right about lawyers & their mating ways, Professor...."

I don't know why you are confining my comments to lawyers. I didn't. My experience in college and all of my life until my late 20s had nothing to do with lawyers. My sense of how my generation thought about these things isn't about lawyers.

Gabriel said...

I'm not sure why this is surprising, Ann. It was all laid out in The Bell Curve.

With as much attention as that book got, not an awful lot of people seemed to have read it.

In the media, that book was about black people being dumber than white people. In reality, that book was about assortative mating and the resulting cognitive stratification.

Danno said...

Just getting back from a long hiatus since my earlier post, I was just teasing on the tiny house idea, as I know you follow and blog on newsworthy items on that topic. As to what do I save on, I have always lived well below my means. Investing right out of college, buying an affordable house, buying cars that last and holding them for most or all of their life, saving/investing any unforeseen income such as bonuses, incentives and such, not subscribing to cable tv, not spending on the latest fashion trend in clothing or housewares, keeping my vacations (so far) to domestic locations, and avoiding expensive restaurants as an everyday thing. Where I have spent quite a bit of money is for K-12 education in parochial schools and undergraduate college assistance for each of my three children. I did this on a single earner income, which allowed my wife to be a stay-at-home mom, and will soon be retired for two years at the end of May, at which time I will be turning 62.

Peter said...

"It’s this notion of this growing equality between husbands and wives having this paradoxical effect of growing inequality across households."

And even worse than that, associative mating will drive multi-generational inequality as well.

The solution? We obviously we need a Handicapper General:

https://archive.org/stream/HarrisonBergeron/Harrison%20Bergeron_djvu.txt

Rick R said...

Of course, the main problem is that paying women more has meant they simply pay men less. It's not like, Gee, we need to give them both $70k! It's more like, let's just give everyone $35k and let them find a mate.

Michael McClain said...

Well, when I and my Lovely Bride married almost 34 years ago, I was a school teacher and she was finishing a degree in Education with a view to teach elementary school. She started a job that lasted 27 in a school district and I switched jobs and worked for the Federal government for fifteen years. I then returned to teaching and retired 10 years later.

What does all this mean? Not a Hell of a lot. We married because we had decide we couldn't live without each other. Thirty-three plus years later with both of us retired, the feeling remains the same.