"Marrying-up" usually refers to marrying above your economic class, often improving one's social mobility in the process. And while of course men have also married up, it's been historically more common for women to do so.
More men are marrying up today in part because there are more highly educated women now than there were a few decades ago, according to the study findings.
As a result, "women are more likely to get married to a less-educated man," ChangHwan Kim, PhD, the study's lead author and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Kansas, said in the press release.
To come to this conclusion, Kim and his study co-author Arthur Sakamoto, PhD, a professor of sociology at Texas A&M University, looked at gender-specific changes in income and marriage from hundreds of thousands of 35 to 44-year-olds using data from the U.S. Census from 1990 to 2000 and the American Community Survey from 2009 to 2011.
To measure "gender-specific changes," the researchers looked at how much return people got on their education in terms of their family's income.
"Previously, women received more total financial return to education than men, because their return in the marriage market was high," Kim said in the press release. "But because of gains in education and employment opportunities, that advantage has deteriorated over time," he added.
During the time period the researchers studied, they found that while women saw greater growth in their personal earnings compared to men, their "net advantage of being female in terms of family-standard-of-living decreased approximately 13 percent."
I asked Kim what a "net advantage of being female" meant over email and he clarified that "if a high-school educated woman marries a man with a BA degree, her equalized income (which gages the standard-of-living) can be higher than a high-school educated man who marries a woman with less than high school education."
"Until the 1990s, women's standard-of-living after controlling for education was higher than men's, but that is no longer the case in 2009-2011."
If you're not sure how to interpret the findings, you're not alone -- they're complicated. On the one hand, they paint a picture of an increasingly equitable education and employment landscape. Women bringing more to the family table, economically speaking, helps to shatter old school ideas about the "man of the house" being the "breadwinner" or "pants-wearer" of the family.
But "in essence," as Kim told me via email, mens' "standard-of-living has improved substantially more than equally less-educated women thanks to their wives' higher salary than before."
Kim added that "the marriage market is becoming increasingly important for men's economic well being." The upside is that can use this data to better understand how trends like "marrying up" will affect our culture.