The lost boy generation strikes again. For years educators have been noting a phenomena of apathy among school age boys that has manifested in higher dropout rates and few young men entering and/or graduating from university. But recent data suggests that the growing education gap between young men and women could be behind the falling marriage rate in Canada.
In 1971, 68% of college graduates were men between the ages of 25 and 29, but by 1981 that number had dropped to just 54%. Thirty years later, the number of graduates who were male was 42%. A Youth In Transition survey in 2003 discovered that while 38% of nineteen-year-old women were attending university, only 25.7% of their male peers had done the same.
This higher education gap coupled with young women delaying childbearing so they can establish careers has resulted in a plummeting marriage rate. Because people tend to marry peers, men without higher educations are not considered prospects by women with degrees. The pool of available partners is reduced for both men and women. Who would have thought that forty years ago?
Of course, there are many other reasons for the decline in marriage. Common law unions have more legal standing and offer greater protections to couples economically, and religion does not play a primary role in the lives of many Canadians, so faith’s historical push towards matrimony is not an issue for most. But the larger implications of the education gap might well be a shift in career domination and wage earning that could further demoralize young males who are at higher risk of dropping out before even graduating from high school, much less university.
What Do You Think?
Boys are falling behind. They are more likely to drop out, not attend university, delay entry into the workforce and more likely to live at home as young adults. What’s happened?
Photo credit: Check Out That Smile by Dianna Williams
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