In the discussion thread: Weekend Economists Out on an Idle Idol Idyll November 15-17, 2013 [View all]
Response to xchrom (Reply #31)
Sat Nov 16, 2013, 10:04 AM
Demeter (74,702 posts)
33. I don't have time for the hunt
and I've lost heart. How does that joke go?
The odds of a woman over 40 being killed by a terrorist are better than those of her marrying. The odds that she's marrying a terrorist are 50:50....
Monday, July 06, 2009
The "more likely to be killed by a terrorist than marry after 40" myth
Have you seen Sleepless in Seattle? Remember the line: “It’s easier to get killed by a terrorist than to get married after 40”? Where does that come from? Well, it comes from a 1986 Newsweek cover story. In 1986, Newsweek reported on an unpublished study and said that by age forty, a single, educated career woman is more likely to be “killed by a terrorist” than to ever get married. Supposedly they had a 2.6% chance of getting married. The study argued that “white, college-educated women born in the mid-1950s who are still single at 30 have only a 20 percent chance of marrying. By the age of 35 the odds drop to 5 percent.” This study was widely quoted. The only problem was that it was totally wrong.
A Census Bureau report from about the same time found that single women at 30 had a 66% likelihood of getting married, not 20%, and at 40 had a 23% probability of marriage, not 2.6%.
The killed by a terrorist line wasn’t based on any research on terrorism. It was an exaggeration on Newsweek’s part, not a statistical finding of the study. It was written as a funny aside in an internal reporting memo by Newsweek’s San Francisco correspondent Pamela Abramson. She said years later, "It's true--I am responsible for the single most irresponsible line in the history of journalism, all meant in jest." In New York, writer Eloise Salholz inserted the line into the story. "It was never intended to be taken literally," says Salholz. But most readers missed the joke.
Newsweek finally retracted this “killed by a terrorist” claim twenty years later, in May 2006. Twenty years after the original article, they reported: "Those odds-she'll-marry statistics turned out to be too pessimistic: today it appears that about 90 percent of baby-boomer men and women either have married or will marry, a ratio that's well in line with historical averages."
The new article now says that the odds of getting married after 40 are more than 40%. And contrary to earlier projections that college educated women are less likely to marry, it’s now much more likely for women with college degrees to marry than not. A 2004 study says that of female college graduates born between 1960 and 1964, 97.4% will marry.
The original 1986 article looked at 14 women who were single and supposedly more likely to be killed by a terrorist. Twenty years later, Newsweek managed to track down 11 of the 14. Eight are married and three remain single. In other words, 72% of those eleven got married. One got married at age 40 and remains blissfully married at age 50. Several have children or stepchildren. None divorced. And none have been killed by a terrorist.
Marriage and Women Over 40 By TARA PARKER-POPE
In the mid-1980s, a now infamous Newsweek article declared that a single, college-educated 40-year-old woman was more likely to die in a terrorist attack than ever walk down the aisle. The claim, repeated in movies and sitcoms, convinced generations of women that if they weren’t married by 40, it probably wasn’t going to happen.
The debate was revived again last week when a study from the Pew Research Center reported that high earning, college-educated women have a dwindling pool of like-minded marriage partners.
Now, a briefing paper from the Council on Contemporary Families is trying to set the record straight about marriage, education and women. For college-educated women who hope to marry someday, the news is good.
In the paper, the economists Betsey Stevenson and Adam Isen of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School analyze marriage data from the Census and the 2008 American Community Survey. They note that historically, women with a college degree have been the “least likely” group of women to ever marry, but those numbers have been changing with each passing decade.
In 1950, 90 percent of white female high school graduates had married by age 40, but fewer than 75 percent of college-educated white women had tied the knot by that age. By 1980, college-educated women began marrying at higher rates and closing the education-marriage gap. That year, 92 percent of 40-year-old white female college graduates had married, compared with 96 percent of similar high school graduates.
Since then, marriage rates have fallen for all women, but now the chance of marriage by 40 is about the same with or without a college degree. In 2008, 86 percent of 40-year-old white female college graduates were married, compared to 88 percent of those with only a high school degree. Women who drop out of high school are the least likely to marry, and college educated women are the least likely to divorce.
The report also shed light on the marriage-over-40 question. It found that college-educated women who are unmarried at age 40 are twice as likely to marry in the next 10 years as unmarried 40-year-olds with just a high school degree. Among 40-year-old white women who had never married in 1990, 20 percent of the college graduates went on to marry within 10 years, compared to just 10 percent of those with a high school degree.
Educated women are also more likely to report being happy in their marriages than less educated women, the report concluded.
The story is different for African-American women. Overall marriage rates are lower among African-Americans, but black women don’t incur a “marriage penalty” when they pursue college degrees. Among black women, 70 percent of college graduates are married by 40, whereas only about 60 percent of black high school graduates are married by that age.
Notably, whether a man marries is less influenced by education, and men show similar marriage rates across all education groups. However, from 1980 to 2008, white males with any college education were more likely to marry than those who had never gone to college. Among black men in 2008, 76 percent of black male college grads were married by 40, compared to just 63 percent of high school graduates.
Dr. Stevenson said the shifts in marriage are occurring at a time when couples are less likely to marry for financial security or economic benefits and more likely to choose partners based on the “companion benefits” of marriage. She calls it the rise of the “hedonic marriage.”
“That’s marriage where you’re together for the joy of having another person to share your life with,” Dr. Stevenson said. “That’s where marriage is headed — couples who are together because they enjoy life more when they’re together.”
Well, I've been married, and while the terrorism may have been only personal and family-directed, one psychopath is enough. The point isn't MARRIAGE, after all, it's HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
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|Ghost Dog||Nov 2013||#12|
I don't have time for the hunt
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