Education Opinion

The Most Potent Impact of the Boy Troubles: Marriageable Mate Dilemma

By Richard Whitmire — January 19, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I started my research looking at why boys fall behind in school, but it didn’t take long for me to arrive at the bottom line of what all this means. Yes, the economy will suffer some as some talented men are left behind, but the impact felt by most will be what sociologists call the “marriageable mate” dilemma. That’s the focus of a Pew report released today and fleshed out nicely by The New York Times.

For a primer on this, go the marriageable mate category in the resource section of my blog, where I’ve been collecting articles about the phenomenon. It’s seen most clearly among African Americans, where there are twice as many female college graduates as male. Why marry, women ask, when the financial prospects of the match are dim? Or, as the lead anecdote in the article lays out, frictions arise over the woman being both better educated and the higher earner.

The spread of this among white women is a mathematical certainty: what other outcome could arise from nearly 58 percent of B.A.-earners being female? One signal of what’s to come is the sharp rise in the number of college-educated white women opting for sperm banks rather than husbands.

The dramatic layoffs of the Great Recession, where nearly 80 percent of those losing their jobs are male, have exposed this phenomenon. But don’t get confused about the fundamental origins of the issue (to date, the press coverage of this has missed the point). This is primarily about an education imbalance, not temporary shifts in the economy.

In the end, it all comes down to the “boy troubles.” What’s going on in our K-12 schools that produces these education imbalances? Answering that is what Why Boys Fail is all about.

The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.