Mother is role model in son's choice of wife: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If a man’s mother is highly educated, chances are the woman he marries will have a similar education, according to a new study.

A newly-married couple kiss in Narva, about 210 km (130 miles) north of the capital Tallinn, June 15, 2007. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Researchers at the University of Iowa found that nearly 80 percent of high-achieving men who were sons of mothers with college degrees married women with a similar education.

And 62 percent of men whose mothers had graduate degrees tied the knot with a graduate degree holder.

“These young men look up to their mothers as role models. They grew up in a family where their mothers were educated women,” sociologist Christine Whelan, who conducted the study, said in an interview.

“For an increasing number of these men ... when they make their own choices about someone who they think will be a good wife in the future or a good mother, they go back to their role models.”

Whelan and her colleague Christie Boxer studied data on 3,700 people who took part in a survey about men and the educational level of the women close to them.

All the men surveyed were considered to be high achievers in their 20s and 30s who earned salaries in the top 10 percent for their age group.

The researchers found that more than 70 percent of the men had mothers who worked while they were growing up, and that the same group was twice as likely to marry women who made $50,000 or more a year.

Whelan, who interviewed more than 100 men and has written a book entitled “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women”, found many men welcomed the idea of a working spouse.

“They are increasing excited about the idea that they won’t have to be the only bread winner in the family, so these men are attracted to women who have a job and express a continuing interest to work,” Whelan explained. (Reporting by Irene Kuan; Editing by Patricia Reaney)