Record number of U.S. wives more educated than their husbands: study

NEW YORK Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:16pm EST

An elderly couple looks out at the ocean as they sit on a park bench in La Jolla, California November 13, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

An elderly couple looks out at the ocean as they sit on a park bench in La Jolla, California November 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A record number of wives in the United States are more educated than their husbands, as the rate of college-educated women grows, according to the Pew Research Center.

Couples in which the husband has fewer degrees than his wife account for 21 percent of marriages, a three-fold increase from 1960, a Pew analysis of census data shows.

"It used to be more common for a husband to have more education than his wife in America," Wendy Wang, a research associate at Pew, said in a statement on her findings.

After three decades of steadily increasing, the percentage of couples in which husbands are more educated fell to 20 percent in 2012.

The trend among newlyweds is even more pronounced, in part, due to rising college graduation rates for women, the study says. Last year, women aged 25-32 were 7 percent more likely than men to have completed college.

Further contributing to the trend, more people are marrying outside their educational level. Only 60 percent of married couples today have similar education levels, down from 80 percent in 1960.

While high school graduates are less likely to marry, college graduates are getting hitched in larger numbers.

But the education gap in marriages does not necessarily translate when it comes to a paycheck. Most women who married less educated men still did not earn more than their husbands.

"Does marrying someone with less education mean 'marrying down' economically? Not necessarily. When we look at the newlywed women who married someone with less education, we find that a majority of these women actually 'married up'," Wang said.

(Reporting By Marina Lopes; editing by Gunna Dickson)

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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