How female education alters relationships

Traditional relationship patterns are being altered as more women continue their higher educational studies. This is according to research by the Centre for Demographic Studies of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, which looked into heterosexual relationship trends in 56 countries to study how education levels among females affects how they choose a mate.

Published in Population Development Review, the study concluded that higher education levels in women has a direct influence on union formation.

The effect in countries in which there are more women than men who have studied at university level shows the number of females uniting "downwards" - by settling down with a man with lesser qualifications - surpasses those who unite "upwards".

Study author Albert Esteve commented: "It will be interesting to observe whether this change develops into more equality between men and women in other aspects of their life [such as] decision-making, distribution of home tasks, divorce [and] fertility."

Chartered Psychologist Dr Andrina McCormack comments:

"The psychodynamics of human heterosexual relationships continue to engender debate, discussion and discontent within the hallowed halls of academia. It has long been accepted that males and females seek different characteristics in their choice of mate. However access to higher eEducation has shifted the balance between the sexes so that new and powerful psychosocial forces must be considered by the individual, by academics and by society.

Unlike training, which offers practical or professional skills and expertise, education should offer the individual access  to higher and more sophisticated skills – 'life skills' – which in turn enhance self esteem, and promotes decision making, assertiveness, responsibility and independence. In other words 'self-efficacy'.

Contraception and its psychosocial consequences have opened up, especially for women, opportunities to enjoy sex as a leisure pursuit rather than as a progenerative marital duty. Where a woman has been educated to a higher level than has been possible in the past, then perhaps her choice of lover can then be based more on attractiveness, looks, physique and sexual prowess, as opposed to her choice of husband, where loyalty and commitment may be more essential? 

The Barcelona study found that 'Traditional relationship patterns are being altered as more women continue their higher educational studies… [and] that higher education levels in women has a direct influence on union formation.'

In this current study, Esteve comments: 'It will be interesting to observe whether this change develops into more equality between men and women in other aspects of their life [such as] decision-making, distribution of home tasks, divorce [and] fertility.'

It would be of interest to know which '56 countries' were involved in this study, as Esteve’s comment has the ring of Research Past in exploring gender and equality. 

Is it not about time that Research Future explodes the myth of gender equality and heads towards the investigation of gender differences and commonalities - people behaviour - and thus head for Research Enlightened?"

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