Monday, January 14, 2013

Degree Dearth=Date Dearth

One of the big trends in American society over the last forty years have been the increasing number of female college graduates compared to males.

In 1970, about 60% of all college graduates were men and 40% were women.  Today, those numbers are reversed.  I wrote about this and other interesting facts about the state of higher education in this country in my blog a little over a year ago.

The higher college graduation rates of females is also evident when you look at the female proportion of the college-educated workforce.  59% of the college-educated work force between the ages of 20-24 is female.  It is 54% for the ages of 25-34.

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

55% of all college accounting majors today are female as are 49% of business administration majors.  However, women still lag in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Women make up only 17.8% of Computer Science majors and 18% of Engineering majors according to NACE.  We need to do a better job of encouraging women to choose these courses of studies.  Our economy can only absorb so many Mass Communications or English Literature majors.  Future demand is going to be driven by people who can make it, fix it, figure it out, test it or code it.  Too many women are not taking this path and we need their talents in these fields to stay competitive in the world economy.

Another factor in the changing educational backgrounds of men and women is the effects it is having on personal relationships.  The enormous shortage of college educated men is creating a significant imbalance in the dating pools in a number of large cities where college graduates tend to migrate to after college.

Consider this graph from The Atlantic which shows the percentage by which women under the age of 35 with at least a bachelor's degree outnumber male college graduates under age 35 in various U.S. cities.  Oh, to be a young, single guy with a college degree in Detroit!

Here is a second graph based on 2009 data that looks at the metro areas rather than just the city dwellers.  Most of the single guys in Detroit must be living in the burbs.

What does all this mean?  I am not sure we know at this point.  Women have historically tended to date and marry men of at least equal educational attainment.  That is becoming an increasingly difficult goal.  There is also research to suggest that in societies with male-female imbalances you see results related to the supply-demand imbalance.  In female-heavy populations, men are more promiscuous and are less prone to make commitments.  In male-heavy populations, there is more marriage, less divorce and fewer illegitimate children.   All of this seems to be connected in some way to the significant increase in the age of first marriages in both men and women over the last 50 years.

Median Age at First Marriage (US Census Bureau)

This ultimately also impacts the birthrate because biology will necessarily limit the potential number of children (at least in wedlock) out of these unions.

Of course, if all of this has not made the single dating scene daunting enough if you are a female, then you should read this blog post by Penelope Trunk on "How to pick a husband if you want to have kids".  I don't know if the choices are as stark as she lays them out but I think there is food for thought here.  For me, this would turn daunting into depressing if I were a single woman.

I would hope there is more to life and love than all of this.

 Here is how Penelope sees it.
You cannot pick a husband to have kids with until you know if you want to work full-time while you are raising them. Some women will say they know for sure that they do want to work full-time. Most women will say that they don’t know for sure. But there are actually only two choices: be a breadwinner or marry a breadwinner. Then, within those two choices, there are a few strategies you could use.
I will boil down the strategies that Penelope suggests for you. If you are going to be the breadwinner, you better really love your job and be capable of making a ton of money. It also helps to marry a guy who would not mind staying home with the kids. If you are marrying a breadwinner, make sure he is going to be able to earn a ton.

If you are a single female and are up to reading the full article, you need to know your Myers Briggs Personality Type as well as anyone you might consider to be marriage material. You can go here to find out your personality type.

I think all of this shows that we live in a very complex time with a lot of complicating factors that also lead to a lot of consequences-both intended and unintended.  Who would think that all of this might be the result of more women simply getting a better education?  The better question to ask might be-How do we get the men step up?

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