Careers

For the first time in history, women are better educated than their husbands—but men still earn more

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For the first time in history, more women than men are better educated than their spouse, reports Brookings. According to research from Institute for Family Studies (IFS) a record 25.3 percent of husbands are now married to wives who have more education than they do.

This is due, in part, to the dramatic increase of women in higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 56 percent of college students are women. That means there are 2.2 million fewer men than women enrolled in college.

But even though women have more educational attainment and are more likely to "marry down" educationally, they are still more likely to be out-earned by their partners. Across all heterosexual couples, 73 percent of men have a higher income than their spouse.

"In fact, regardless of how men's education compares to their wives,' husbands still end up having an edge on earnings," writes Wendy Wang, director of research at the IFS.

This inconsistency between educational attainment and income among married couples is also prevalent among newlyweds who are often in the early stages of their careers. Of couples who married in 2015, just 20 percent of husbands had more education than their wives, yet 67 percent earned more.

Brookings points out that the economic value of a college degree has steadily risen over the past few decades and increased dramatically for women. Women of all levels of educational attainment have witnessed a rise in wages, however, the sharpest increase has been among women with four-year college degrees.

Higher education has become an essential tool for women to lessen the gender pay gap. Unfortunately, earning a college degree in the United States requires either winning significant aid, having significant college savings or taking on significant amounts of student debt. This makes closing the pay gap a privilege that many women and girls are unable to afford.

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