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Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Differences in education and values between men and women cause mismatches when seeking a partner

05 Jun 2024
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The educational expansion of women has led to changes in the differences in educational level of men and women when looking for a partner. Research conducted by the UAB Centre for Demographic Studies (CED-CERCA) has examined for the first time the role of discrepancies in gender role values and education among potential spouses. According to the study, about a third of women in favor of gender equality and with a higher education would not be able to find a homogamous male partner.

Homes i dones en abstracte

In recent decades the “couple's market” has changed dramatically. The most well-known changes in the structure of this market are to be found in the discrepancies in the educational level of potential spouses due to the educational expansion of women. If there is no potential spouse available (in a given population) with similar resources or characteristics, there is no possibility of having a homogamous partner, being for many the preferred one. A study by the Centre for Demographic Studies (CED-CERCA) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) examines for the first time the aspect of gender role values in potential spouse mismatches.
The importance of the second half of the gender revolution cannot be overlooked. One would expect that, as feminism spreads, the role of men in household chores would increase in importance and, therefore, women would increasingly seek a potential partner who values such an egalitarian view. Using the most recent Fertility Survey available (2018) for young Spanish men and women, the research examines the combined gender gap (taking into account both the difference in education and in values) in Spain.
The study, published in the latest issue of the CED journal Perspectives demogràfiques, distinguishes the values of gender roles in both aspects of the private sphere and aspects of the public sphere. The difference between men and women in terms of education and egalitarian values is small for people with a low and medium level of education. However, in the case of people with higher education, there is a “deficit” of men with the same characteristics as women. This “deficit” of men represents 15% for values in the private sphere and 12% for values in the public sphere. This corresponds to a male deficit in the total population and would imply that about one third of women in favor of gender equality and with higher education would not be able to find a homogamous male partner, while men with a low or medium level of education would face a “female deficit” of women with similar characteristics, although in this case it would be small in absolute terms.

Perhaps this gap in education and egalitarian values could explain, in part, the growing number of single women with higher education and single men with low educational levels. To confirm this and observe the evolution of this gap in recent years, CED researchers believe that a new Fertility Survey is necessary, with new data on singles, families, their resources and their values. The authors of the study also recommend support to reduce these differences in education and values, and point out that, in the meantime, potential couples should be aware of the imperfect partner market of young Spanish adults.

Original article:

Van Damme, M. (2024). Mismatches in finding a romantic partner: Education and gender values in the Spanish marriage market, Perspectives Demogràfiques, 35: 1-4 (ISSN: 2696- 4228). DOI: 10.46710/ced.pd.esp.35