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America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

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America, Home of the Transactional Marriage
The country’s exceptionally thin safety net prompts residents—especially those with less-steady employment—to view partnership in more economic terms.
The Atlantic |

Victor Tan Chen

Photo by David Pollack / Getty.

Over the last several decades, the proportion of Americans who get married has greatly diminished—a development known as well to those who lament marriage’s decline as those who take issue with it as an institution. But a development that’s much newer is that the demographic now leading the shift away from tradition is Americans without college degrees—who just a few decades ago were much more likely to be married by the age of 30 than college graduates were.

In 2017, just over half of women in their early 40s with a high-school degree or less education are married, compared to three-quarters of women with a bachelor’s degree; in the 1970s, there was barely a difference. The marriage gap for men has changed less over the years, but there the trend lines have flipped too: Twenty-five percent of men with high-school degrees or less education have never married, compared to 23 percent of men with bachelor’s degrees and 14 percent of those with advanced degrees. Meanwhile, divorce rates have continued to rise among the less educated, while staying more or less steady for college graduates in recent decades.

The divide in the timing of childbirth is even starker. Fewer than one in 10 mothers with a bachelor’s degree are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth, compared to six out of 10 mothers with a high-school degree. The share of such births has risen dramatically in recent decades among less educated mothers, even as it has barely budged for those who finished college. (There are noticeable differences between races, but among those with less education, out-of-wedlock births have become much more common among white and nonwhite people alike.)

Plummeting rates of marriage and rising rates of out-of-wedlock births among the less educated have been linked to growing levels of income inequality. More generally, these numbers are causes for concern, since—even though marriage is hardly a cure-all—children living in married households tend to do better on a wide range of behavioral and academic measures compared to kids raised by single parents or, for that matter, the kids of parents who live together but are unmarried.

Whether this can be attributed to marriage itself is a contentious question among researchers, since some studies suggest that what really drives these disparities is simply that those who are likeliest to marry differ from those who don’t, notably in terms of earnings. (Other studies, however, find better outcomes for the kids of married parents regardless of the advantages those households tend to have.) Regardless, it is clear that having married parents usually means a child will get more in the way of time, money, and guidance from their parents.

Why are those with less education—the working class—entering into, and staying in, traditional family arrangements in smaller and smaller numbers? Some tend to stress that the cultural values of the less educated have changed, and there is some truth to that. But what’s at the core of those changes is a larger shift: The disappearance of good jobs for people with less education has made it harder for them to start, and sustain, relationships.

What’s more, the U.S.’s relatively meager safety net makes the cost of being unemployed even steeper than it is in other industrialized countries—which prompts many Americans to view the decision to stay married with a jobless partner in more transactional, economic terms. And this isn’t only because of the financial ramifications of losing a job, but, in a country that puts such a premium on individual achievement, the emotional and psychological consequences as well. Even when it comes to private matters of love and lifestyle, the broader social structure—the state of the economy, the availability of good jobs, and so on—matters a great deal.

***

In early 2017, the economists David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson analyzed labor markets during the 1990s and 2000s—a period when America’s manufacturing sector was losing jobs, as companies steadily moved production overseas or automated it with computers and robots. Because the manufacturing sector has historically paid high wages to people with little education, the disappearance of these sorts of jobs has been devastating to working-class families, especially the men among them, who still outnumber women on assembly lines.

Autor, Dorn, and Hanson found that in places where the number of factory jobs shrank, women were less likely to get married. They also tended to have fewer children, though the share of children born to unmarried parents, and living in poverty, grew. What was producing these trends, the researchers argue, was the rising number of men who could no longer provide in the ways they once did, making them less attractive as partners. Furthermore, many men in these communities became no longer available, sometimes winding up in the military or dying from alcohol or drug abuse. (It’s important to point out that this study and similar research on employment and marriage focus on opposite-sex marriages, and a different dynamic may be at work among same-sex couples, who tend to be more educated.)

In doing research for a book about workers’ experiences of being unemployed for long periods, I saw how people who once had good jobs became, over time, “unmarriageable.” I talked to many people without jobs, men in particular, who said that dating, much less marrying or moving in with someone, was no longer a viable option: Who would take a chance on them if they couldn’t provide anything?

And for those already in serious relationships, the loss of a job can be devastating in its own way. One man I met, a 51-year-old who used to work at a car plant in Detroit, had been unemployed on and off for three years. (As is standard in sociology, my interviewees were promised confidentiality.) Over that period, his marriage fell apart. “I’ve got no money and now she’s got a job,” he told me. “All credibility is out the tubes when you can’t pay the bills.” The reason his wife started cheating on him and eventually left him, he said, was that “a man came up with money.”

His loss of “credibility” wasn’t just about earnings. He worried that, like his wife, his two young kids looked down on him. He’d always been working before; now they wondered why he was always home. In his own mind, being out of work for so long had made him less of a man. “It’s kinda tough when you can’t pay the bills, you know. So I have been going through a lot of depression lately,” he told me. Unemployment makes you unable to “be who you are, or who you once were,” he added, and that state of mind probably didn’t him make an appealing person to live with.

The theory that a lack of job opportunities makes marriageable men harder to find was first posed by the sociologist William Julius Wilson in regard to a specific population: poor, city-dwelling African Americans. (Disclosure: Wilson was my advisor in graduate school.) In later decades of the last century, rates of crime, joblessness, poverty, and single parenthood soared in cities across the country. Many conservatives blamed these trends on a “culture of poverty” that perpetuated indolence, apathy, and instant gratification across generations. Some, such as the political scientist Charles Murray, argued that federal assistance programs made these communities dependent on outside help and discouraged marriage.

Many liberals criticized these “cultural” explanations, pointing out that, among other things, the inflation-adjusted value of welfare and other benefits had been falling over this period—which meant overly generous government aid was unlikely to be the culprit. In a 1987 book, Wilson put forward a compelling alternative explanation: Low-income black men were not marrying because they could no longer find good jobs. Manufacturers had fled cities, taking with them the jobs that workers with less in the way of education—disproportionately, in this case, African Americans—had relied on to support their families. The result was predictable. When work disappeared, people coped as best they could, but many families and communities frayed.

Decades later, the same storyline is playing out across the country, in both white and nonwhite communities, the research of Autor, Dorn, and Hanson (as well as others) suggests. The factory jobs that retreated from American cities, moving to suburbs and then the even lower-cost South, have now left the country altogether or been automated away.

The predicament of today’s working class is no longer just about the decline in manufacturing jobs. A study in 2016 by the sociologists Andrew Cherlin, David Ribar, and Suzumi Yasutake found that in places with relatively large disparities in earnings, parents were more likely to have at least one child outside of marriage. Part of the reason, the researchers concluded, was that these highly unequal areas had little in the way of jobs that paid well and that high-school graduates could get—not just factory jobs, but also lower-level office and sales jobs. What have replaced jobs like that are, for the most part, low-wage service jobs as janitors, restaurant workers, and the like. “The kinds of jobs a man could hold for a career have diminished,” the sociologists wrote, “and more of the remaining jobs have a temporary ‘stopgap’ character—casual, short-term, and not part of a career strategy.” The result: As many men’s jobs have disappeared or worsened in quality, women see those men as a riskier investment.

At the same time, they are not necessarily postponing when they have kids. As the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas have found in interviews with low-income mothers, many see having children as an essential part of life, and one that they aren’t willing to put off until they’re older, when the probability of complications in pregnancy can increase. For mothers-to-be from more financially stable backgrounds, the calculation is different: They often wait longer to have children, since their career prospects and earnings are likely to improve during the period when they might otherwise have been raising a child. For less-educated women, such an improvement is much rarer.

One wrinkle to the marriageable-man theory has to do with the role cultural norms—whether it’s socially acceptable not to marry, or to have kids outside of marriage—play in people’s decisions about starting a family. A study released in 2017, by the economists Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson, looked at a scenario that was the opposite of what Autor and his co-authors examined: What happens when men’s wages increase? Do men become more marriageable in women’s eyes, and do out-of-wedlock births decline? Kearney and Wilson compared marriage and childbirth rates in areas that had seen a bump in wages and the number of jobs (thanks to fracking booms) to the rates in areas that hadn’t. They found that, contrary to what the marriageable-man theory would predict, areas where fracking boosted wages did not see an uptick in marriages. The number of children born to married couples rose, though births to unmarried parents also increased somewhat.

How do these findings square with those of Autor, Dorn, and Hanson? The authors of the fracking study suggest that the disappearance of good jobs could well have played a crucial role in an initial turn away from marriage, as well as childbirth within marriage. But what had taken over since then, they speculate, was a new set of social expectations: Over several decades, Americans have come to view marriage as less of a necessity, and more of an ideal, and this shift has continued into recent years. Now that singlehood and out-of-wedlock childbirth have shed a degree of social stigma, the theory suggests, an increase in men’s incomes won’t revive norms that have already faded away.

As evidence of how social standards have changed, Kearney and Wilson describe how people living in Appalachian coal-mining communities responded in a quite different way to a similar economic boom in the 1970s and ’80s. Back then, spikes in income led to dramatic increases in marriage and the proportion of births within marriage—the very things that apparently have failed to resurge in today’s boomtowns. The way that most couples decide matters of marriage and children nowadays, Kearney and Wilson argue, has taken on a momentum of its own, one that short-term improvements in the economy won’t easily redirect.

This model may seem to focus unduly on men’s economic prospects, compared to women’s, but that’s actually the point. Americans still on the whole expect men to provide, meaning their worth as partners is more closely tied to their income. In fact, what seems to be decisive in Autor, Dorn, and Hanson’s study is not really whether men’s incomes go up or down, but whether they go up or down relative to women’s. For instance, when competition from China chipped away at jobs in female-dominated manufacturing sectors, such as the leather-goods industry, marriage rates actually increased. As women’s wages fell compared to men’s, the economists argue, marriage was more likely to lead to economic security, and single motherhood became less attractive.

But even if expectations around gender and earnings remain firmly in place, they are clearly changing, likely in response to the reality that, nowadays, women are the primary breadwinner in four out of 10 families. I spoke to a 54-year-old former factory worker in Mount Clemens, Michigan, who told me that her husband’s resentment about the frequent temporary layoffs (which came during slow periods at her plant) eventually spilled over into vicious fights over money. “Anytime I got laid off, he got pissed,” she said. The two later separated. In today’s economy, when oftentimes both partners must pitch in their wages to make ends meet, it’s increasingly hard to see how anyone in the working class has the luxury of sticking with someone without a job—male or female.

***

Does it really have to be this way? Must a job—or a lack of a job—shape one’s romantic and family life? When I was doing research for my book, I talked to both Americans and Canadians affected by the retreat of manufacturing jobs, many of whom were separated by just a quick drive across the border between Michigan and Ontario. I was surprised, though, that unemployment appeared to be more toxic to the romantic relationships of the Americans I talked to, who were more likely to go through a separation or divorce following a layoff than my Canadian interviewees were.

To some extent, this reflects cultural differences. As Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist whose research was cited above, noted in his 2010 book The Marriage-Go-Round, Americans tend to place great importance on both marriage and personal autonomy, which is reflected in their very high marriage and divorce rates (higher than in other advanced industrialized countries, including Canada). An intensely individualistic worldview, when applied to relationships, may make someone more willing to end them when their partner doesn’t have a good job; the can-do, competitive values that America rightly celebrates can, when taken to extremes, make relationships seem to be as much about self-advancement as about unconditional love and acceptance.

At the other end of the earnings spectrum, this view of relationships leads well-educated people to search for partners who, on some level, will set them (and their children) up to be financially better off. Increasingly, this means that well educated people marry other well educated people—something that has always been the case, but not to this degree.

In discussing this trend—which researchers call “assortative mating”—in his recent book Dream Hoarders, the Brookings researcher Richard Reeves brings up the time a prominent Princeton alum advised current female students to snag a husband in college, where they are most likely to find someone “worthy” of them. The love life of a Princeton grad is an extreme example, but across all levels of education and income, there may be more of this weeding out of potential partners than there used to be. Finding a “worthy” partner is increasingly important in today’s economy, and for the working class, this sorting would be based on employment more than education.

All that said, the difference I detected in the durability of Americans’ and Canadians’ relationships following the loss of one partner’s job may also have to do with how the two countries’ social policies shape residents’ views on the stakes of being employed. Of course, some researchers believe that a strong safety net may actually discourage people from getting married in the first place. They point to the fact that in European countries with expansive government programs, there tend to be lower rates of marriage and childbirth within marriage. But it’s unclear whether the explanation is different values, or different policies. In many European countries, for example, cohabiting relationships are often long-term and stable, such that they look much like marriages. In the U.S. that tends not to be the case, which suggests that attitudes about live-in relationships, like views on marriage, diverge across the Atlantic.

My own research looks more narrowly at one question in this debate: Can certain policies help keep working-class married couples together after one of them loses a job? Ample support for worse-off families may keep the stresses of unemployment, and financial problems more generally, from tearing couples apart. In Windsor, Ontario, I met a 60-year-old Canadian man whose family went through a difficult time after he lost his job. One day, he walked to a highway overpass and decided he would kill himself by jumping in front of a truck. He stayed out there, on a cold December morning two days after Christmas, for three hours. But, unable to bring himself to carry out his plan, he went home.

He and his wife talked things over, and he decided to get help. A local support program for people out of work—an “action center” funded by the government and staffed by some of his former coworkers at the plant—provided him with a support network of peers who understood his situation. The center also lobbied his former employer to extend his remaining health-insurance coverage so that he could pay for his therapy. (Even under Canada’s single-payer system, not all health-care costs are covered by the government.) He said he emerged from that experience with a stronger marriage and a stronger relationship with his daughter. “Before, we didn’t have that openness, that communication,” he said.

The Canadian safety net later helped him in other ways. He took remedial courses to get his high-school degree and then trained to become an addiction counselor; the government paid all his tuition, which included a job placement at the end of the program. Even when his public unemployment benefits ended, he continued to receive income through a special program for laid-off workers like him who had worked at least seven out of the previous 10 years. The fact that he could still bring home a check every other week, he said, made him feel less ashamed about not working. “Everything is moving in the right direction,” he told me at the time. For that he credited his family, his own motivation, and the government’s help.

While a patchwork of programs in the United States provides similar kinds of retraining support, it tends to be less generous and more narrowly focused. Whether one’s partner is out of work matters more in America, where the safety net is thinner, because less of a lost paycheck is going to get replaced by the government (if any of it is in the first place). In their recent research on the white working class, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton note this link. “The repeated re-partnering in the US,” they write, “is often driven by the need for an additional income, something that is less true in Europe with its more extensive safety net.”

Canada has a robust set of policies that help struggling families, especially those with just one earner. For example, Canadian parents receive “baby bonuses,” monthly tax-free cash benefits for each child under the age of 18, which were greatly expanded for lower-income households in 2016. (America’s federal government offers a child tax credit, but it helps only those who have done a certain amount of paid work that year, and jobless workers and low-income families who don’t pay much in the way of federal income taxes receive less or none of it.) Canadians with modest incomes also receive quarterly, tax-free payments to offset the costs of various sales taxes. Policies like these make having two full-time incomes less crucial in keeping a Canadian household financially afloat. They may also make the relationships in that household less transactional—that is, less dominated by a calculus that tallies what one partner does for another.

Confronted, like the United States, with global economic realities such as free trade and automation, some countries have built or strengthened safety nets to give their residents a measure of financial stability. There’s a reason American family relationships have been shaped so much by labor markets. It’s not a matter of destiny, but policy.

Victor Tan Chen is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy.

This article was originally published on August 20, 2017, by The Atlantic, and is republished here with permission.

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All the Single Ladies written by Vincent Harinam and Rob Henderson

All the Single Ladies written by Vincent Harinam and Rob Henderson

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Published on January 16, 2020
All the Single Ladies
written by Vincent Harinam and Rob Henderson

“Oh, he’s kind of cute.” My friend at Yale, swiping through Tinder, leaned over and showed me his profile.
“Wait, no.” She moved her finger leftward.
“Why not? He seems alright,” I reply.
He goes to a local, less highly-regarded university, she explained. In other words, not Yale.

Swipe Right for a Master’s Degree

The dating market for women is getting tougher. In part, this is because fewer men are attending universities. Why would male enrollment in higher education matter for women? Because women, on average, prefer educated men. One source of evidence comes from women’s personal responses to dating profiles posted by men. Researchers analyzed 120 personal dating ads posted by men on the West Coast and in the Midwest. They found that two of the strongest variables that predicted how many responses a man received from women were years of education and income. Similar results have been found in Poland. Researchers analyzed how many women responded to dating ads posted by 551 men. They found that men with higher levels of education and higher income received more responses. A more recent study in Australia of more than 40,000 online daters found that women were more likely to initiate contact with a man if he had more education than themselves.

Still, young people today are more likely to use Tinder or other dating apps than Internet dating websites. Are things different on the apps? A study led by economics researcher Brecht Neyt of Ghent University found that, on Tinder, women were 91 percent more likely to “like” a man with a master’s degree compared with a bachelor’s degree. The researchers used the same male profiles, the only difference was level of education. They also tested how men would react to women with different levels of education, finding that men were only eight percent more likely to “like” a woman with a master’s degree compared with a bachelor’s degree. Both men and women preferred more-educated partners, but women had a much stronger preference.

In other words, all other things equal, a man with a master’s degree is about twice as likely to get a match than a man with a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps something to keep in mind, if you are interested in obtaining a graduate degree and are active on Tinder.

Some women do marry men with less education, though. These women tend to marry men who earn more than them. A study by Yue Qian, a sociologist at the University of British Columbia, found that women who had more education than their spouses were 93 percent more likely to be married to men with higher incomes than themselves. In other words, if you are a less-educated man, it is helpful to earn more than your educated male peers if you want to marry an educated woman. Better-educated women have a stronger preference for partners who earn more, especially if their partners are less educated than themselves.

This finding fits the overall pattern revealing that women who are more educated and professionally successful have an even stronger preference for successful male partners, relative to less successful women. The evolutionary psychologist David Buss, discussing his research on how professionally successful women select partners, found that “Successful women turned out to place an even greater value than less professionally successful women on mates who have professional degrees, high social status, and greater intelligence and who are tall, independent, and self-confident.” The more professionally successful a woman is, the stronger her preference for successful men.

Getting Ratioed

Sex ratios matter for dating strategies for both men and women. Even seemingly small differences in sex ratios can be misleading. For example, in The Evolution of Desire, David Buss discusses the student body of the University of Texas at Austin where he teaches. In 2016, the student body consisted of 46 percent men and 54 percent women. That doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it is. It translates to 17 percent more women than men on campus. The UT Austin campus has about 52,000 students in total. This means that if every student pairs up with someone of the opposite sex, about 4,000 women will be without a partner.

More to the point, the age range for the Tinder study cited above was 23 to 27. This is the age range in which women are far more educated than men, and where more women tend to be looking for male partners. In his book Date-onomics, Jon Birger revealed that according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are 5.5 million college-educated women between the ages of 22 and 29, versus only 4.1 million college-educated men in the same age bracket. In other words, the dating pool for college graduates has 33 percent more women than men—or four women for every three men. Broken down by degree type across all ages in the U.S., for every 100 men with bachelor’s degrees, there are 130 women. For those with master’s degrees, for every 100 men there are 134 women. The situation for educated women seeking educated male partners isn’t looking so good. Furthermore, more men identify as exclusively homosexual relative to women. Which suggests the dating pool for heterosexual women may be even smaller than the above numbers suggest.

But how do such imbalances manifest themselves with regard to mating strategies? When there is a surplus of men, men are more likely to adapt to women’s preferences. When there is a larger male-to-female ratio, men are more likely to compete with each other to be what women want. And, on average, women tend to prefer longer-term relationships. In general, women report a greater desire for emotional investment than men. This is true across cultures. In fact, the sex disparity in this preference for emotional investment is greater in more egalitarian cultures. In other words, the difference in the desire for love and emotional investment between men and women is larger in societies that more strongly underscore egalitarianism and sociopolitical equality. In contrast, men, on average, are more likely to prefer more casual sexual relationships. Indeed, the sex difference in the male preference for casual sex and sexual variety is greater in more gender-egalitarian societies. For example, research led by the psychologist David Schmitt found that the sex difference for enjoyment of casual sex in Denmark, Norway, and Finland is higher than in less gender-egalitarian cultures such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and Swaziland.

And we see this on campuses with more male students relative to female students. Jon Birger, in Date-onomics, describes the dating scene on campuses with imbalanced sex ratios. On colleges with more men than women, such as Caltech, steady relationships are more widespread. Students go on dates, and men demonstrate commitment in partnerships. Men are more willing to do what women want in order to be with them. On the other hand, when there is a surplus of women relative to men, women are more likely to adapt to men’s preferences. They compete with one another to be what men want. And this is what we see on campuses with more female students relative to male students. On colleges with more women than men, such as Sarah Lawrence, casual sex is more widespread. Hookup culture is more prevalent, and men are less interested in entering committed relationships. Women are more willing to do what men want in order to be with them.

Birger describes an interview with a female student at Sarah Lawrence:

Most straight men at Sarah Lawrence had no interest in a committed relationship. “Why would they?” she said. “It’s like they have their own free harem. One of my friends was dumped by a guy after they’d been hooking up for less than a week. When he broke up with her, the guy actually used the word ‘market’—like the ‘market’ for him was just too good.”

If you have ever been around young men at elite colleges, many of them do speak in this way, especially if there are less-prestigious colleges nearby. This is because male students at top colleges can attract women at their own college, as well as other local campuses. On the other hand, women at top colleges are often only interested in dating men at their own college. For these women, the dating pool is less promising compared to their male counterparts.

Interestingly, women at colleges where women are more numerous trust men less. In a study on campus sex ratios and sexual behavior, researchers analyzed data from 1,000 undergraduate women from different U.S. colleges. Women’s responses varied based on sex ratios on campus. For example, women at colleges with more women were more likely to agree that “men don’t want a committed relationship” and that they “don’t expect much” from the men with whom they go out. They also found that women on campuses with a higher female-to-male ratio were much less likely to report that they had never had sex.

The researchers report that, “women who attend college on campuses where they are more numerous tend to view men as less interested in commitment and less trustworthy. They are less likely to expect much from men, find it more difficult to locate the right kind of men, and are more likely to report that their relationships don’t work out and that a woman can’t have a boyfriend if she won’t have sex.” In other words, when men are in an environment where there are more women, they appear to put in less effort, and have less interest in relationships.

In contrast, in environments where men are more numerous, relationships are more likely to proliferate. The Harvard psychologist Marcia Guttentag and her colleague Paul Secord examined census numbers, data on sex ratios, and historical texts dating back to ancient Greece and medieval Europe. She found that in societies where men were more numerous relative to women, the culture was more likely to stress courtship and romance. Men had to compete for wives and were thus more willing to make commitments to women. While women in such societies were more likely to be cast in stereotypical gender roles, they also, Guttentag reports, exercised greater control in their choice of romantic partner. She found that the opposite was the case in societies with more women than men. She writes, “The outstanding characteristic of times when women were in oversupply would be that men would not remain committed to the same woman throughout her childbearing years.” Intriguingly, Guttentag posits that feminist movements are energized when there is a dearth of men in the local environment:
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With a surplus of women, sexual freedoms are more advantageous to men than to women. Decreased willingness to commit oneself to an exclusive relationship with one woman is consistent with that fact… It follows further that the persistence of such circumstances would leave many women hurt and angry. Other women, not themselves without a man, would nevertheless often be aware of the unfortunate experiences of their women friends in relations with men. These circumstances should impel women to seek more power, and incidentally, turn them towards meeting their own needs. Most forms of feminism are directed to just such ends.

In short, environments with more women give rise to conditions that propel women to reduce their social, economic and political dependence on men. In part because men are less interested in commitment when they are outnumbered by women and therefore have more options.

Still, much of this is assuming that men in educated dating pools prefer educated women. And for long-term relationships, they do. Compared with women, though, men tend to be more open to pairing up with less educated partners. And less educated women tend to be open to dating men more educated than themselves. What this means, then, is that educated women are not only competing against other educated women for educated male partners, but also against less educated women. To use Guttentag’s phrasing, the dating environment for educated men has an oversupply of women, and they are acting in line with Guttentag’s original findings. As Birger puts it in Date-onomics, describing why educated men are often reluctant to settle down, “Why make a lifetime commitment to one woman when you can keep her as an option while continuing to survey the market—a market that, for college-educated men, has an ever-increasing number of options?” This point has also been stressed by David Buss. In an essay titled The Mating Crisis Among Educated Women, Buss observes that it is no coincidence that the rise of hookup culture on college campuses has developed alongside the growing proportion of female students. Even Tinder, he suggests, is a part of the same phenomenon. Fewer men means more hookups.

Why Don’t You Get a Job?

Other factors don’t bode well for long-term relationships. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 80 percent of never-married women, compared with less than half of never-married men, report that having a partner with a steady job is “very important” to them. Employed men are more attractive to women. And given that successful women tend to value success in prospective partners even more than less successful women, it stands to reason that employed women place an even greater value on employment when selecting a partner. However, Pew has also found that among never-married adults, for every 100 women, there are only 84 employed men. If all employed men were suddenly taken, every sixth woman would be partner-less.

Why does any of this matter? Maybe relationships aren’t that important, and people derive happiness from other things, like career success. But consider recent research led by Nathan Kettlewell at the Economics Discipline Group at the University of Technology Sydney. Kettlewell and his colleagues found that when it comes to cognitive and emotional well-being, job-related events such as getting a promotion or being fired doesn’t actually have much impact beyond about three months. What does impact well-being? Negative factors on well-being were the death of a partner or child, separation or divorce, and major financial loss (e.g., bankruptcy). Positive factors were getting married, having children, and a major financial gain (e.g., inheritance or lottery winnings). Considering that few of us are going to inherit money from a rich uncle or win the Powerball, establishing a relationship with people we love is key to our sense of well-being.

Why are men falling behind when it comes to education? Several suggestions have been offered. One might be video games. In a paper titled “Cutting class to play video games,” the economist Michael Ward looked at a dataset of more than 6,000 high school and college students. He found that when video game sales increase, students spend less time attending class and doing homework and more time playing games. Furthermore, this “crowding out” effect was stronger for males and lower income students. He also found that the average amount of time spent playing video games was three times larger for males compared to females.

The economist Erik Hurst has suggested that leisure time has become so valuable to men that they are less willing to exchange that time for other pursuits. In an interview, Hurst has said, “In our culture, where we are constantly connected to technology, activities like playing Xbox, browsing social media, and Snapchatting with friends raise the attractiveness of leisure time. And so it goes that if leisure time is more enjoyable, and as prices for these technologies continue to drop, people may be less willing to work at any given wage.” This may be why fewer young men, relative to women, are employed or attending university.

Furthermore, Hurst and his colleagues found that from 2000 to 2015, labor hours fell by 12 percent for those aged 21–30. What has filled this free time for men? The researchers found that young men increased the number of hours dedicated to leisure by about the same number of labor hours they lost. And what kind of leisure? An article in The Economist reports, “For each hour less the group spent in work, time spent at leisure activities rose about an hour, and 75% of the increased leisure time was accounted for by gaming.” Video games might be more appealing than other ventures, and many young men have decided to dedicate more of their time to gaming and less to education or work. Interestingly, these young men do not report being unhappy. Hurst goes on to say, “These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they are quite content compared to their peers.” However, the men surveyed are quite young. It is possible and perhaps likely that as these men reach middle-age, their feelings will change.

For now, many young men understand that women want educated and successful partners. Why not work harder to adapt to this preference? In their book, The Demise of Guys, psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan suggest that the answer is twofold: fake war and fake sex. They argue that many young men have a natural desire for conflict, struggle, and accomplishment. Video games satiate this desire. They are designed to induce a sense of gradual achievement in the face of obstacles adapted to be just above the player’s ability. Alongside this, young men also have a natural desire to seek sexual partnerships. Digital porn satiates this desire. Porn provides a virtual experience of sexual fulfillment with multiple different partners. Many young men may have simply decided to derive a sense of accomplishment from gaming, and a sense of sexual satisfaction from porn.

Sexy selfies and dating pools

In short, there are far more educated women than educated men. Educated women, on average, prefer men who are educated as well. And among couples in which the woman has more education, they tend to prefer men who earn more than themselves. But the reality is that fewer young men are graduating from college compared to women, fewer men are employed, and fewer men are seeking employment. The dating pool is shrinking for women who are interested in successful, educated, men with good career prospects. In such an environment, hookup culture becomes more widespread, which women tend not to like as much as men. The romantic landscape is rosy for educated men, who are more open to dating both educated and less educated women. But for women, the situation doesn’t look as great. Research suggests in such an environment, sexual competition between women intensifies. In fact, a recent study found that the proliferation of “sexy selfies” may be due in part to economic inequality, as women compete to earn the attention of a shrinking pool of economically successful men.

The good news, though, is that couples in which both individuals are educated tend to be happier. Their divorce rates are lower and satisfaction with their marriages is higher. But as the incentives continue to shift, and imbalanced ratios continue to influence the dating pool for the educated, we may see fewer such couplings.

Rob Henderson is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. You can follow him @robkhenderson

Vincent Harinam is a law enforcement consultant, research associate at the Independence Institute, and PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. You can follow him @vincentharinam
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Comments

Stephanie

Good article, thank you. It never occurred to me how hookup culture could be fueled by an overabundance of female students, but it makes a lot of sense. The female preference for educated men and the diminishing proportion of men in university adds up to bleak prospects for our birthrate.

How do we fix this? Do men need to make themselves more competitive for university admission or do more women need to look outside the university pool?

Although lowering standards is seldom the right answer, I’d have to say the latter is a better solution. We have too many university graduates as it is, saturating the market such that there are insufficient jobs that pay well enough to support a good standard of living and pay off tuition debt in a reasonable timeframe. We should be looking to reduce admittance to higher education institutions to numbers that match the market’s need.

On the other hand, plenty of great men’s careers require no formal education, mostly in the trades. Men with such careers start their earning years earlier and without debt, making them more financially secure in their 20s, the prime reproductive years, and many can be in the position to open their own businesses in their 30s or 40s if they wish. The male-dominated nature of these professions means they too need to look outside for a mate.

My husband was working as a pipefitter when I met him, while I was doing my MSc. I was too conservative for the university crowd so I wasn’t going to find a mate there, but I was practically a leftist compared to my husband. Meeting him and truly stepping outside the university bubble for the first time in my life was a transformative experience that showed me the value of old fashioned family-centric ethos. Now I have a loyal husband who’s incredibly attractive and who supports my higher education goals and my excessive living standards. Being a wife and mother is infinitely better than chasing down dates with the miniscule proportion of men who are both highly educated and good looking.

Men outside the bubble are better able and willing to give women what they actually want, something women should clue in to before they end up bitter and infertile.
Kiashu
Stephanie:

How do we fix this? Do men need to make themselves more competitive for university admission or do more women need to look outside the university pool?

Per the article, apparently boys need to spend less time playing video games.
Stephanie:

We should be looking to reduce admittance to higher education institutions to numbers that match the market’s need.

I agree with this. As I’ve mentioned before, in 1966 Australia had 90,000 students with 12 million people; by 2015 it was 1.4 million students with 24 million people. In the late 1980s people could work as a bank teller without finishing high school, 10 years later they needed a commerce degree. I refuse to believe that in 10 years the job gained complexity needing 4 more years’ education, if it had the banking industry would have gone through convulsions through lack of qualified people. Likewise many other industries.

“the reality is that fewer young men are graduating from college compared to women, fewer men are employed, and fewer men are seeking employment.”

This does not bode well for the future, since these things all lead to higher incidences of mental health issues, drug abuse, and crime. And a growing healthcare and welfare bill.

But mainly what I got from the article was that I’m very glad to be happily married.
MorganFoster
Stephanie:

Men outside the bubble are better able and willing to give women what they actually want, something women should clue in to before they end up bitter and infertile.

Apparently, there are a lot of highly intelligent, well-educated and successful women who were under the impression that the old saying “it’s lonely at the top” was never going to apply to them.
Shamrock

As i read the findings of the university study, it struck me that the article could be summed up as “The laws of supply and demand”.
MorganFoster

Some years ago, a friend of mine, a female professor at a local college was teaching a course in which all the students who signed up were women. No men.

It wasn’t set up to be all female, it just worked out that way by chance. On the first day of class, my friend invited them to each say a few words about themselves by way of introduction, and she then said she would like to ask them a few questions about their view of life outside of school.

Among her questions were these three:

How many of you would be willing to marry a man who is younger than you? Most of the women raised their hands.

How many of you would be willing to marry a man who makes less money than you and always will make less? Most of the women raised their hands.

How many of you would be willing to marry a man who is shorter than you? Not a single woman raised her hand.

(My professor friend was 6’ tall in her bare feet, and her husband was an inch or so taller. Her students didn’t know that.)

I’m sure it all means something.
jdfree49

Education and formal education are antonyms.

The formal education system, besides promoting Leftism, is highly feminized. It treats all students like girls and puts boys on ritalin to try to get them to comply. The results are a reduction in the number of good men, the inflation of the female ego, and a credentialism that leads women to incorrectly imagine themselves superior to men who thrive outside their system.

As women are hypergamous, this is a dating disaster waiting to happen.

Men are checking out of this system as it plainly does not serve them. Some achieve outside the system, but others, particularly those indoctrinated by the system and their single moms, find no avenue for satisfying their male need for measurable achievement other than video games, whose addictive nature is their clearly defined measures of progress.

I read an article a few years back in which economically successful Chinese women complained that there were “no good men”. The signature quote was that in China, “The A men marry B women, the B men marry C women, and all that’s left is the C men and A women”.

Think about that for a second. This was China – a country that’s spend decades creating a massive gender imbalance with the One Child policy. How on earth can their women complain about bad odds? Likely these self-described “A women” are not as special as they think they are. At the same time, given the rampant egoism of recent history, who can blame men for marrying down and scoring themselves wives who are actually grateful for them?

And the end of the day, this is all just more evidence that feminism is awful. If the male/female ratio at a university was 51/49, they’d scream “patriarchal oppression!”, but give them the majority, and suddenly they’re unhappy about their dating lives.
jdfree49
Kiashu:

The schadenfreude of this post reeks of an embarrassing misogyny. You should get that seen to.

Shooting the messenger, claiming a monopoly on good intentions… any other textbook left-wing tactics you want to pile on there?

What I said was true, and if you don’t like it, too bad for you.
Dcl

There were many interesting points raised here – I particularly thought it was interesting about the hookup culture stemming from a surplus of women – but I was rather bemused to read this entire article without encountering “all the single mothers” who parent these men and women.

Video games are a trendy and, to my mind, easy and shallow way of scorning young men. It seems to have become received wisdom, with logic something like this: “More young men are single, driftless, angry, and underemployed/undereducated. More young men also play video games. Therefore, video games are obviously the cause of their being single, driftless, angry, and underemployed/undereducated.”

Talk about a logical fallacy. Perhaps they play video games because that gives their lives meaning; that is, their lives are rudderless and instead of joining a gang or drinking themselves to death, they join a community of video game playing. Quelle horreur.

I don’t play video games, but my sons do. Many are hugely inventive, imaginative, skill-intensive, particularly the RPG but also highly skilled games like the Mario games. Just because a lot of young men play video games does not mean that playing video games causes their other issues. If a lot of men read and didn’t go out, would we be having a discussion attacking books? If a lot of women spent excessive time drinking wine and gossiping with their female friends, would we say they’re wasting their time too?

I’ll tell you what else is associated with driftless young men: single mothers and absent fathers.

How this entire article talked about this issue without mentioning single motherhood is beyond me. There are a million studies that show the high risk of single mothers and absent fathers on kids–why would the risks stop once they turn 18 and become adults? (I”m a single mother by the way; I don’t hold animus to single mothers. At the same time, I’m not going to pretend my kids had the same experience as kids whose fathers also played an active role in their lives.)

The other interesting thing the article didn’t do was question the habits of women and men–women wanting men of higher status essentially (money, height/strength, power), and men wanting women who compliment their physical/emotional desires and needs. That is, women are on average far more hierarchical than men when it comes to choosing their mates. It’’s fascinating how we can have parallel discussions on the intrinsic biological differences between men and women to the point that it’s unquestioned – the author never says, “Hey here’s a solution: why don’t women try marrying a decent lower-class bloke for once?” – at the very same time it’s verboten to say men and women are different. Talk about cognitive dissonance!
Stephanie
Kiashu:

Per the article, apparently boys need to spend less time playing video games.

I agree with @jdfree49 and @Dcl that video games are a weak explanation. It seems tautological that as work time decreases, leisure time increases. Videogames just happen to be the popular leisure activity for men, being both engaging and inexpensive.

Sure there are men who have a toxic dependence on them, but it’s not like in the absence of videogames they would be going to university and being top-tier husband material. The men at the bottom of the pile were always going to be there, and if they are underemployed and totally unmarriageable I would blame the lack of jobs available for the uneducated before blaming videogames.
BrainFireBob

I recall seeing some of this years ago, but blaming men- women were being “forced” into hookup culture.

I have always been a subscriber to the school of thought that women actually control all sexual and social interactions and norms. The Tinder results are proof- women are making hookups available for reasons of mate competition, men aren’t forcing them into it. The male response is a response, not a power play- feminism is wrong.

So, retroactively apply to social more and older feminist arguments: Did men force women into the home? Did men hold women back? Or did the gestalt choice of most women create that prudish society, with its emphasis on men becoming as optimally masculine as they could achieve?
PeterfromOZ

Don’t use the word ‘‘mysogyny’’. It’s very rarely appropriate in real life as there are so few men who hate women. If you must bend the knee to leftist twaddle, at least use ‘‘sexist’’ as it was invented to cover the sort of thing of which you complain.

If you’re not careful, you’ll be using ‘‘decimated’’ to mean ‘‘erradicated’’ and then where will we be?
Mythfortune

Agreed, his posts frequently are both more interesting and better sourced than the original article. Although there are quite a few other commentators that is true of as well. Quillette has great essays, but really shines for the quality of the comment section.

It actually poses an interesting paradox. Most website commenting forums are such cesspools that interaction just gets mud on you. So what is the point in posting? Then I find Quillette and have the opposite problem. Anything I want to say is often already being said far more eloquently by someone else, so what is the point in posting?

At least I get to push the “like” button pretty often. :slight_smile:
DoctorR

The usual feminist diversion- attack the messenger rather than the message.

You may not like the argument, but can you deny that it’s true? If the ratio of men to women at universities were reversed, feminists would cry sexism. But when the ratio favours women, suddenly everyone, including the media, go quiet.

Apparently double standards aren’t a problem when they favour females. To dismiss this as “misogyny” gets it laughably backwards.
Farris

So those damn cisgendered privileged toxic men are in short supply? Just ain’t no pleasing some folks.
AsenathWaite

Problems inherent in trying to engineer human society to fit some artificial idealized vision of what you think the world should be like while ignoring human nature as shaped by millions of years of natural selection. See also: communism.

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Detect file mime type using magic numbers and JavaScript

Detect file mime type using magic numbers and JavaScript

The everyday developer
Detect file mime type using magic numbers and JavaScript
Andreas Kihlberg
Andreas Kihlberg
Jun 11, 2017 · 3 min read

The browser File API in the quite powerful, the requirement of modern website is not just text and images but also video, sound and other binary formats, this has led to an improved support for handling files directly in the browser.

In this article we’ll have a look of how to use the FileReader to read the first four bytes of a file to determine the mime type of the file. This will give us a more accurate way to tell the mime type, and not just examining the file extension, which is browser default behaviour.
Two of the files is missing extension and one has an incorrect one. By using magic number we can still get the correct mime type
What is magic numbers and how to use them

Magic numbers, or file signatures is a byte pattern inside a file that is used to determine which kind of file you are dealing with. In our example we are reading the first four bytes.

A constant numerical or text value used to identify a file format or protocol — Wikipedia

You can read more about file signatures at Wikipedia and Whatwg.
Why not use the file object type

The default browser file type implementation only uses the file extension to determine the file type, in most cases this works pretty well. It doesn’t work very well when the extension is missing or if it’s incorrect.
Using FileReader API
Pretty much 100% support in modern browsers

The support in browsers for files and FileReader is pretty much 100%. It’s only opera mini that doesn’t support FileReader.
How to get the magic number using JavaScript and FileReader

In this example we are using a basic file input to let the user select a file. The steps to calculate mime type for a file in this example would be:

The user selects a file
Take the first 4 bytes of the file using the slice method
Create a new FileReader instance
Use the FileReader to read the 4 bytes you sliced out as an array buffer.
Since the array buffer is just a generic way to represent a binary buffer we need to create a TypedArray, in this case an Uint8Array.
With a TypedArray at our hands we can retrieve every byte and transform it to hexadecimal (by using toString(16)).
We now have a way to get the magic numbers from a file by reading the first four bytes. The final step is to map it to a real mime type.

An example
JSFiddle

Try this out or experiment using this JSFiddle
Code

This example should be runnable directly in your browser.

This is one use case of FileReader API. If you build websites which allows users to upload some types of files, this would be the most secure and accurate way to go.

This is just an example, to run this on a serious website you should definitely go over all known magic numbers that you want to support.
Learn more

FileReader API
Slicing a blob
Can i use — FileReader
Number toString
ArrayBuffer
TypedArray
List of file signatures

JavaScript
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Andreas Kihlberg

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Web developer with passion for great architecture, smart solutions and new technologies
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Quotas for Google Services

Quotas for Google Services

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Quotas for Google Services

Apps Script services impose daily quotas and hard limitations on some features. If you exceed a quota or limitation, your script throws an exception and execution terminates.
Note: In addition to the Apps Script quotas described in this page, some features have additional quotas imposed by the Google product they are associated with. A use of a product feature in Apps Script depletes all associated quota reserves. A feature becomes unavailable if any of the associated quotas are reached.
Current quotas

Quotas are set at different levels for users of consumer accounts (such as gmail.com) and G Suite free edition (discontinued), or different G Suite editions.

Daily quotas are refreshed at the end of a 24-hour window; the exact time of this refresh, however, varies between users.

The table below lists the Apps Script daily quotas as of August 2018. The quotas shown below are provided solely to assist you in testing scripts. All quotas are subject to elimination, reduction, or change at any time, without notice.
Feature Consumer
(e.g., gmail.com) G Suite free edition (legacy) G Suite
Basic / Gov G Suite Business / Enterprise / Education Early Access
Calendar events created 5,000 / day 10,000 / day 10,000 / day 10,000 / day Flexible
Contacts created 1,000 / day 2,000 / day 2,000 / day 2,000 / day Flexible
Documents created 250 / day 500 / day 1,500 / day 1,500 / day Flexible
Email recipients per day 100* / day 100* / day 1,500* / day 1,500* / day 1,500* / day
Email read/write (excluding send) 20,000 / day 40,000 / day 50,000 / day 50,000 / day Flexible
Groups read 2,000 / day 5,000 / day 10,000 / day 10,000 / day Flexible
JDBC connection 10,000 / day 10,000 / day 50,000 / day 50,000 / day Flexible
JDBC failed connection 100 / day 100 / day 500 / day 500 / day 500 / day
Presentations created 250 / day 500 / day 1,500 / day 1,500 / day Flexible
Properties read/write 50,000 / day 100,000 / day 500,000 / day 500,000 / day Flexible
Spreadsheets created 250 / day 500 / day 3,200 / day 3,200 / day Flexible
Triggers total runtime 90 min / day 3 hr / day 6 hr / day 6 hr / day 6 hr / day
URL Fetch calls 20,000 / day 50,000 / day 100,000 / day 100,000 / day Flexible

Note: Newly created G Suite domains are subject to the consumer limit for the first billing cycle if they have six or more users, or several billing cycles if they have fewer users. For more information, see the Help Center page on sending limits.
Current limitations

The table below lists hard limitations as of August 2018. The limits shown below are provided solely to assist you in testing scripts. All limits are subject to elimination, reduction, or change at any time, without notice.
Feature Consumer
(e.g., gmail.com) G Suite free edition (legacy) G Suite
Basic / Gov G Suite Business / Enterprise / Education Early Access
Script runtime 6 min / execution 6 min / execution 6 min / execution 30 min / execution 30 min / execution
Custom function runtime 30 sec / execution 30 sec / execution 30 sec / execution 30 sec / execution 30 sec / execution
Simultaneous executions 30 30 30 30 60
Email attachments 250 / msg 250 / msg 250 / msg 250 / msg 250 / msg
Email body size 200kB / msg 200kB / msg 400kB / msg 400kB / msg 400kB / msg
Email recipients per message 50 / msg 50 / msg 50 / msg 50 / msg 50 / msg
Email total attachments size 25MB / msg 25MB / msg 25MB / msg 25MB / msg 25MB / msg
Properties value size 9kB / val 9kB / val 9kB / val 9kB / val 9kB / val
Properties total storage 500kB / property store 500kB / property store 500kB / property store 500kB / property store 500kB / property store
Triggers 20 / user / script 20 / user / script 20 / user / script 20 / user / script 20 / user / script
URL Fetch response size 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call
URL Fetch headers 100 / call 100 / call 100 / call 100 / call 100 / call
URL Fetch header size 8kB / call 8kB / call 8kB / call 8kB / call 8kB / call
URL Fetch POST size 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call 50MB / call
URL Fetch URL length 2kB / call 2kB / call 2kB / call 2kB / call 2kB / call
Flexible Quotas Early Access
This feature is part of the Early Access feature set. As such only some developers currently have access to it.

Normally, if a script execution exceeds one of the above quotas or limitations, the script execution stops and an appropriate error message is returned. This can potentially leave the script’s data in an undefined state.

Under the flexible quota system, such hard quota limits are removed. Scripts do not stop when they reach a quota limit. Rather, they are delayed until quota becomes available, at which point the script execution resumes. Once quotas begin being used, they are refilled at a regular rate. For reasonable usage, script delays are rare.
Exception messages

If a script reaches a quota or limitation, it will throw an exception with a message similar to the following:

Limit exceeded: Email Attachments Per Message. This indicates that the script exceeded one of the quotas or limitations listed above.
Service invoked too many times: Calendar. This indicates that the script called the given service too many times in one day.
Service invoked too many times in a short time: Calendar. Try Utilities.sleep(1000) between calls. This indicates that the script called the given service too many times in a short period.
Service using too much computer time for one day. This indicates that the script exceeded the total allowable execution time for one day. It most commonly occurs for scripts that run on a trigger, which have a lower daily limit than scripts executed manually.
Script invoked too many times per second for this Google user account. This indicates that the script began executing too many times in a short period. It most commonly occurs for custom functions that are called repeatedly in a single spreadsheet. To avoid this error, code your custom functions so that they only need to be called once per range of data, as explained in the guide to custom functions.
There are too many scripts running simultaneously for this Google user account. This indicates that you have too many scripts executing at once, although not necessarily the same script. Like the exception above, this most commonly occurs for custom functions that are called repeatedly in a single spreadsheet.

Except as otherwise noted, the content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, and code samples are licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. For details, see the Google Developers Site Policies. Java is a registered trademark of Oracle and/or its affiliates.

Last updated 2019-12-09.

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