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Old 06-11-2006, 07:03 AM   #1
grey1969
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Default Marriage by the Numbers

In early 1986, a demographic study from a team of Harvard and Yale researchers, who looked at the odds of women getting married at various ages, was published. It was picked up by the media and Newsweek did a feature article. In their recent June 5th issue, Newsweek did a 20 year followup. An abbreviated version of the article from the Newsweek website is attached here.



Some interesting snippets from this article:

" In "The Marriage Crunch," the magazine reported on new demographic research from Harvard and Yale predicting that white, college-educated women who failed to marry in their 20s faced abysmal odds of ever tying the knot. According to the research, a woman who remained single at 30 had only a 20 percent chance of ever marrying. By 35, the probability dropped to 5 percent. In the story's most infamous line, NEWSWEEK reported that a 40-year-old single woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry. That comparison wasn't in the study, and even in those pre-9/11 days, it struck many people as offensive. Nonetheless, it quickly became entrenched in
pop culture."

"Statistically, people who marry at much higher-than-average ages don't have lower odds for divorce. But some experts are starting to think that
later-in-life marriages may have better chances of survival."

"In a shift from the earlier studies, done in the mid-'80s, however, the newer studies conclude that nowadays, a college degree makes a woman more likely to marry, not less. The Princeton paper suggests that for female college graduates born between 1960 and 1964, 97.4 percent will eventually marry."
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:01 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by grey1969
The Princeton paper suggests that for female college graduates born between 1960 and 1964, 97.4 percent will eventually marry."
MMmm well that still gives a little hope. Though the study is completely focussed on women. Looking at my old study mates from the university, they're all somewhere between 34 and 40 and about 12% has found mate, the other's are still searching.
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Old 06-11-2006, 06:01 PM   #3
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Good point, GeorgeNL ... why are these studies focused on women? Why didn't Newsweek in 1986 offer overblown statistics meant to frighten men that their marriage prospects were dire? I think Newsweek was incredibly irresponsible to print what it did in 1986. I'm sure many despaired based on their "study," and to come along twenty years after say "Oops!" doesn't make it all better.
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:43 PM   #4
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Default RE: Marriage by the Numbers

This study was on White women who are college educated. The statistics are not so rosy Black women who are college educated. While at birth there are 102 Black baby girls to 100 Black baby males. By age 24yo, the odds have dropped 100 females to 84 males. When you subtract the Blackmen in prisons (over 150K Blackmales), the number of Blackmen who marry outside the Black race, a 5:1 ratio, the mentally ill, un-educated, etc. the answer is bleak. It turns out that there are around two women for every one. If you look at the number of men by relaxing some requirements, like a college education to some extent instead of a degree the odds go up to three women for every two men.
The odds of staying married past thirdteen years are very low. Three out every four Black children in America grow up to the age of eighteen without both parents being together!

Yes the lack of education and teen pregnancies alter these statistics but when you factor out these two parameters the numbers are still bad.

There are several other minorities in which being an educated women and wanting an educated man, would encounter similar statistics.

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Old 06-11-2006, 11:24 PM   #5
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I never gave that study any credence, or believed it would apply to me, and it hasn't. They're just numbers.
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Old 06-12-2006, 05:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tina
I never gave that study any credence, or believed it would apply to me, and it hasn't. They're just numbers.
Amen. You can use statistics to confirm or deny anything, really. I didn't care if I got married or not---in fact I was more prone not to marry because of my parents' brawling, hate-filled, wacko-dacko relationship that still continues to this day. But I found someone (sings like Cher) to take away the heartache! And here I am.
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:14 AM   #7
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I'm not sure why never getting married is so horrible...
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:55 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by grey1969
In early 1986, a demographic study from a team of Harvard and Yale researchers, who looked at the odds of women getting married at various ages, was published. It was picked up by the media and Newsweek did a feature article. In their recent June 5th issue, Newsweek did a 20 year followup.
Statistics are well and good in the aggregate, but I've never been much interested in marrying an aggregate. What really matters is what works for each of us as individuals. The only marriage stat that really concerned me was our 24th anniversary, with our silver anniversary coming up next year.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TheSadeianLinguist
I'm not sure why never getting married is so horrible...
I agree. The study assumes that all women are lolling about hoping to get married. It doesn't take into account that some people are single by choice or that the kind of marriage they are interested in isn't available.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:38 PM   #10
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Good point, GeorgeNL ... why are these studies focused on women? Why didn't Newsweek in 1986 offer overblown statistics meant to frighten men that their marriage prospects were dire? I think Newsweek was incredibly irresponsible to print what it did in 1986. I'm sure many despaired based on their "study," and to come along twenty years after say "Oops!" doesn't make it all better.

Well, anecdotally there seem to be fewer men than women who are worried about getting married. Fear of not getting married seems a more prevalent thing amongst women than amongst men, though men may be less willing to admit/discuss it. Also, men's value on the "marriage market" tends to increase with age, while women's tends to decline. Men in their late 40's/early 50's, especially if they have some money, are quite desirable to some women. Women in their late 40's and beyond - not so much.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:39 PM   #11
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I'm not sure why never getting married is so horrible...
I think that depends entirely on the person. If getting married and having a family is a goal of yours (as it is/was of mine) and you are unable to achieve that goal, it is sad and frustrating.

If that isn't a goal of yours? Not so sad/frustrating.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:50 PM   #12
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I'm not sure why never getting married is so horrible...
It's not. But it's all fine if you have the oppertunity and choose differently. However, if you only hear stories about what it is to love, to be loved, and to make love, and you don't get the chance to experience anything yourself, it can be frustrating. That in reality a good circle of friends can be just as good, does not take away the curiosity.
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:58 PM   #13
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I just figured I would never get married. The area I grew up in was uber-snotty and about as un-fat-friendly as you could get, and I was told that I would succeed at few things without a size-6 body. It mattered little to me since I had always been relatively self-sufficient, so I went on my merry (not marry) way and planned for a life as a single person. It didn't really occur to me to be upset about it. I sort of likened it to not being a natural born redhead (oh well). I completed college, started in and became quite successful in a career, and owned my own home. Had a lot of friends along the way, but no one guy who was particularly special.

Then, when I was about 35 or so - I found the Dimensions website and chatroom. Wait, what?... you guys LIKE fat women?! (gets all Elaine-ish) Get... OUT! (my only regret is that I didn't know about this community when I was 15 or 16).

There was fella in chat who became very special to me. This one's smart, I thought to myself. He actually has me looking up word definitions. Hmm... yes, this one's special. We chatted, emailed, phoned... and eventually met. I told him when we were first dating that I didn't want to get married, ever (a point he reminds me of occasionally, with amusement). Things progressed, and he moved several hundred miles to live near me. After falling in love with him, it occurred to me that I DID want to be married. To him. I suddenly figured out why people did it! I still didn't get rock-climbing, Saabs or new Coke, but this I understood! It was something that we could do together, a special thing that couples get to do, and I wanted it.

We lived together for 6 years before we actually got married in 2004 (I was 42). He's the bestest person on the face of the earth and I hope my life is as long as his - to the second. But no longer.

I suppose what all this means is that statistics and numbers mean dick when it comes to your life. Set your goals for yourself. Plan your own flight, and if you happen to pick up a co-pilot on the way, then all the better.
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by thislittlepiggy
Good point, GeorgeNL ... why are these studies focused on women? Why didn't Newsweek in 1986 offer overblown statistics meant to frighten men that their marriage prospects were dire? I think Newsweek was incredibly irresponsible to print what it did in 1986. I'm sure many despaired based on their "study," and to come along twenty years after say "Oops!" doesn't make it all better.
"The researchers focused on women, not men, largely because government statisticians had collected better age-of-marriage data for females as part of its studies on fertility and birthrates."
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:28 PM   #15
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I agree. The study assumes that all women are lolling about hoping to get married. It doesn't take into account that some people are single by choice or that the kind of marriage they are interested in isn't available.
"Not everyone wants to marry, of course. And we're long past those Jane Austen days when being "marriage-minded" was primarily a female trait; today many men openly hope for a wife just as much as women long for a husband. The good news is that older singles who desire a spouse appear to face far kinder odds nowadays. When the Census last crunched the numbers in 1996, a single woman at 40 had a 40.8 % chance of eventually marrying. Today those odds are probably even higher - and may be only slightly worse than the probability of correctly choosing 'heads' or 'tails' in a coin toss."

I think most men desire to have children in order to leave a legacy. This is another important motivating factor for men to marry, particularly as they get older (over 30) and begin to think about their mortality.

Last edited by grey1969; 06-12-2006 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 06-13-2006, 04:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by moonvine
I think that depends entirely on the person. If getting married and having a family is a goal of yours (as it is/was of mine) and you are unable to achieve that goal, it is sad and frustrating.

If that isn't a goal of yours? Not so sad/frustrating.
I agree. But there are people out there who seem to believe that it's impossible for a person to be single and happy. I've met a number of them and have even been given some crap for my relative lack of interest in marriage and having children. At the other extreme; I've also heard it said that it's impossible for someone to be happier when married than when single, or even to be truly happy at all if married.
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Old 06-13-2006, 05:49 PM   #17
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I find this kind of disheartening... Any stats out there for the guys, or is it just the women that all want to be married? (Yes, and the guys are just dragged into it beucase they want sex! It all makes sense now!* )

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:34 AM   #18
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Welcome to Sexism, Jim.

I despise the, "Women like Commitment; Men like to Screw," hoopla. I feel your pain.
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Old 06-14-2006, 05:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by JustPlainJim
I find this kind of disheartening... Any stats out there for the guys, or is it just the women that all want to be married? (Yes, and the guys are just dragged into it beucase they want sex! It all makes sense now!* )

~~~~~
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And on that note, allow me to set the record straight about my motivation for posting this topic. It has been pointed out to me privately that this may have been construed as some sort of dig against singles (particularly those over 30) as we had become accustomed to seeing from a former Dimensions member. If this had been the original article from 1986, that would have been a legitimate conclusion. However, what we are talking about here is the debunking of the original prediction that a single person at 40 years old has almost no chance to get married. In contrast, the latest data suggests that person has a roughly 50% chance of marrying (statistically speaking). So rather than being disheartened, reading this article should make anyone feel good that marriage is a very viable possibility for singles of all ages. Therefore it really was intended to be a feelgood thread. Of course there will always be those who believe it is their job to pick apart anything I post on these boards and make me out to be a sexist pig.

Regarding the concern that these studies are focused on women and not men, as I have posted above (posts #14 and 15 of this thread) there is an acknowledgement that men are, in general, just as intent as women to marry and have children (I certainly fell into this category in my single days), and the reason for focusing on women was simply a practical one being that the data existed from another purpose.

I was also asked why I posted this since it appears to have nothing to do with fat acceptance. While that is true, it is indirectly connected and there certainly are a number of single folks over 30 here who I believe can relate and possibly be given some renewed optimism. Also, since many FAs will come to accept their orientation when they are older and less susceptible to peer pressure, it may be that the BBW/FA marriage will naturally fit into this new marriage paradigm.

Lastly, I want to thank Samantha for sharing her wonderful story , and wish everyone else here all the best!

Last edited by grey1969; 06-14-2006 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:03 AM   #20
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I think everyone understood that we're supposed to feel overjoyed that we women "have a chance." Getting married would be nice, but I don't think every single woman on this board is staying up all night worrying about it.
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:18 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by JustPlainJim
I find this kind of disheartening... Any stats out there for the guys, or is it just the women that all want to be married? (Yes, and the guys are just dragged into it beucase they want sex! It all makes sense now!* )

~~~~~
*: Sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.
Hey I was once approached by a guy who was desperate to start a family. In every meeting he brought the conversation 'round to having babies, his clock was ticking so loud it made me nervous. In fact I've met two men like that. Of course I ran like hell. Aside from the fact that neither of them were financially secure enough to have kids, I barely knew them.
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:20 AM   #22
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Hey I was once approached by a guy who was desperate to start a family. In every meeting he brought the conversation 'round to having babies, his clock was ticking so loud it made me nervous. In fact I've met two men like that. Of course I ran like hell. Aside from the fact that neither of them were financially secure enough to have kids, I barely knew them.
Eh-heh... this was kind of one of my downfalls in my first relationship. >_> I was so in love, I was convinced we were going to get married and live happily ever after. And, couple that with a woman who only talked about our relationship when she was pissed off... *sigh* At least I learned my lesson! ^_^
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:38 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JustPlainJim
Eh-heh... this was kind of one of my downfalls in my first relationship. >_> I was so in love, I was convinced we were going to get married and live happily ever after. And, couple that with a woman who only talked about our relationship when she was pissed off... *sigh* At least I learned my lesson! ^_^
I think in general some people are unable to get over the hurdle of a person's desire to have children/start a family if they express it as a primary desire. Nothing wrong with really wanting that but people want to feel cared for and cared about and sometimes that doesn't come across as strongly as they would like. One tends to get the feeling that they are merely a suitable incubator for them to spawn an heir. Some people exacerbate their personal issues as a litmus test to see if the person they are with really cares about them and then the person leaves them because they have too many issues.

EDITED TO SAY: Not suggesting you were like that or your relationship was like that. I was just thinking out loud as an addendum to your post.
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Last edited by LillyBBBW; 06-14-2006 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:27 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LillyBBBW
I think in general some people are unable to get over the hurdle of a person's desire to have children/start a family if they express it as a primary desire. Nothing wrong with really wanting that but people want to feel cared for and cared about and sometimes that doesn't come across as strongly as they would like. One tends to get the feeling that they are merely a suitable incubator for them to spawn an heir. Some people exacerbate their personal issues as a litmus test to see if the person they are with really cares about them and then the person leaves them because they have too many issues.

EDITED TO SAY: Not suggesting you were like that or your relationship was like that. I was just thinking out loud as an addendum to your post.
Ehh.. I was kinda like that. To be honest, I very rarely treated her like a "incubator", but... I dunno. Maybe I used words like "forever" a bit too often. >_O;;

AS for "too many issues"... usually, the first time I meet someone or IM with someone, I act a bit crazier than most other times (both "haha crazy" and "that's kinda odd crazy"), as a sort of test and a warning. Test for their sense of humor and what I can get away with. Warning that this is likely the worst off you'll ever see me. ^_^
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:36 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by TheSadeianLinguist
I think everyone understood that we're supposed to feel overjoyed that we women "have a chance." Getting married would be nice, but I don't think every single woman on this board is staying up all night worrying about it.
Actually, I've talked to a lot of women--in chat, for example--for whom this is a big worry, even if they're making lives for themselves while they're waiting. Many women here on the board have expressed similar sentiments as well. If this gives them hope, I'm happy.

When I read the opening post, at first glance I thought it was highlighting a negative. Then I read the article and realized it was really meant to be a positive.

And Sammie, who could read your post and not smile. Great story.
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