Skip to navigationSkip to content

This subset of women has the best odds of making a marriage last

Reuters/Lisi Niesner
The benefits of a college education.
  • Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

US divorce rates are declining, but not all marriages are created equal. Some couples have the odds stacked in their favor before they even tie knot.

Women with college degrees are nearly twice as likely to have long-lasting marriages than those without, reported Pew Research Center on Dec. 4. The report cites a 2012 study of first-time brides by the US National Center for Health Statistics, which found that an estimated 78% of women with bachelor’s degrees who married between 2006-2010 can expect their marriages to last at least two decades.

Women with a high school degree or less, on the other hand, face a meager 40% probability of their marriages surviving the same period. 

The estimates were based on historical marriage patterns, and a nationally representative sample of women and men ages 15 to 44 in heterosexual marriages. The sample size was too small to analyze same-sex marriages, Pew noted. And marriages ending in death were not included in the report.

This research echoes the findings of an earlier study by University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, which showed the US divorce rate is lower among college-educated couples, as reported by the New York Times last year. But the route to marital bliss isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for college-educated women.

Statistically speaking, college-educated women have a harder time finding love, financial reporter Jon Birger argues in his new book Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. The book, which cites research suggesting that women with college degrees want to marry men with comparable educations, shows that the dating field isn’t level among college grads—according to current college class breakdowns, one-third more US women are graduating from college than men.

The Pew report did not analyze why college-educated women have longer-lasting marriages, but notes that people who graduate college tend to marry later in life and be more financially secure.

While there are benefits to delaying marriage, Pew also notes that couples that lived together before wedding were less likely to make those marriages stick. Among women who lived with a spouse before marrying for the first time, an estimated 46% could expect those marriages last at least 20 years, compared to 57% of those who did not live together beforehand. First-time grooms fared slightly better when it came to making those marriages last.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.