Hypergamy Check List

Chart of the Day: Is Hypergamy On the Decline or Alive and Well?

Cosmopolitan – From Carrie Bradshaw and Big to pretty much everyone on The Real Housewives, the concept of marrying “up” is nothing new – yet somehow, it’s one of those themes that never seem to go out of style. Take, for example, Bridgerton.

According to Damona Hoffman, OkCupid‘s official dating coach and host of the Dates & Mates podcast, it’s as old as time.

“The idea of marrying for love is actually a very contemporary practice,” Hoffman says. “Marriage traditionally was for ensuring the financial stability of a woman’s family.” And while the concept is a major focal point of shows, books, movies, history, and daydreams, it’s actually a real thing that’s still very much happening in the world.

“Hypergamy is essentially a patriarchal constructed form of partnership from a time when women had very little education, weren’t able to work, and needed their partner for survival,” says Howard. “Marriage was mostly about survival and protection. Marriage for love is a new concept.”

“You might be surprised to learn, however, that while arranged marriages aren’t as common in western society, hypergamy still very much is. In fact, there are a ton of celebrity couples out there who are hypergamous such as Donald and Melania Trump and previously Erika Jayne and Tom Girard,” says Hoffman. Back in the days of women not being allowed to vote, own property, or secure assets without a husband, hypergamy was one of the only ways to get ahead. See the graphic below by Cosmopolitan.

Hypergamy Statistics

Here is more evidence of hypergamy today from a study from OK Cupid, a dating website, below.

Ok Cupid Hypergamy

One could debate a few percentage points, but the reality is very clear – hypergamy, consciously or unconsciously, still exists strongly in today’s culture. However, others would say that hypergamy is in decline. Some cite that women are more educated and earn more money than ever before – which is clearly true. But is this a measure of hypergamy?

The theory goes that women and men are marrying more often as equals today, unlike in the past. But, both marriages and divorces in the US are in decline. We can see that in the US (emblematic of Western cultures), the ratio of the two is clearly in decline. See this in the chart below and learn more here.

US Divorce Marriage Historical

Hence, in the fewer marriages that occur, hypergamy may be less of a factor, but could also be the reason many fewer marriages are occurring – i.e., women can be far more selective today than in the past. Growing wealth inequality may also be a factor – i.e., the inability of many men to acquire sufficient resources to attract women. LGBTQ+ lifestyles offer further options that are on the rise.

Singles US HistoricalAnother way to look at this would be the number of single people in society today. Single people in society are on the rise – see the inset chart and learn more here.

One could ask whether the supposed decline in hypergamy is a result of the decline of “traditional families.”

Many women may say, “men will need to just man-up and accept their new lot in life” – accepting to mate with women they would not previously considered. Many men are saying, “I’m checking out and go watch porn” – they become incels. Is this evidence that hypergamy is alive and well, as these men are getting selected out of the gene pool? See this in the chart below and learn more here.

young-men-no-sexIn the end, society will vote with its feet concerning marriage and relationships. What this does to fertility rates and demographics will also change our culture – learn more here. Remember what Joe Scarborough said?

As more evidence that “traditional families” are in decline, single parents in the United States have become more common since the second half of the 20th century. In the United States, since the 1960s, there has been an increase in the number of children living with a single parent. The jump was caused by an increase in births to unmarried women and by the increasing prevalence of divorces among couples. See this in the chart below.

US Single Parent Homes Historical

Do not take away from these charts and factoids that society should return to the 1950s in terms of gender roles. Besides, that is not going to happen. But clearly, some new thinking will be required if western society is to survive. To attack men or women will not serve society well.

What do you think? Is hypergamy on the decline? One thing is clear, “traditional families” are on the decline. What that does for society is a broader social experiment that will affect our culture, politics, and our overall financial well-being.

Darwin will eventually cull any deviant behavior.

See more Chart of the Day posts.

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 RWR original article syndication source.

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  1. My issue with Hoffmann and others take on ” marrying up” in modern day world is as follows.
    Absolutely, there was a time in the span of man’s history where Hypergamy, as it is called, was a product of necessity to survive particular to a woman’s journey. No doubt centuries of that dynamic shaped many of our present day patriarchal tropes.

    But do they hold up? Today I mean. Women in western countries and certainly in the USA do not require a man to survive as Hoffmann’s article points out. Current western culture may in fact have men and women seeking to mate with those who bring quality of character , experience, and opportunity into the union , however not related to survival.

    The term Hypergamy holds no weight for me in modern society. If I am choosing to desire to have a lifestyle different than that I was raised in economically or culturally or both – it is an instinct of gratification and expanding my experiences rather than simply I must marry a man to survive in this world. The instinct to better ones’ self is a positive one and in today’s western society should not be tagged as Hypergamy.

    • Like attraction of men to women and women to men, hypergamy may be more of a constant and can be associated with biological realities. What has changed significantly in the last 100 tears is the rise of women’s status in terms of education and earning power relative to men – which is not necessarily a measure of hypergamy. Because women have higher status and where hypergamy being a constant, their pool of men to select from has shrunk. It may explain why marriage rates have dropped and the rise of single parent kids.

      As a by-product of this phenomenon, women, because now they can, are involved in defacto polygamous relationships though they may not like it – i.e., 80% of women want the top 20% men and hence must share. On the other side of the equation, the bottom 20%-ish of men, since they are selected out of the pool chosen by women, hence have less sex and fewer marital relationships – as shown in the chart in the article.

      Whether this is good or bad and whether it is a problem that needs to be fixed is another question. Nevertheless, it will have effects on culture at large.

  2. Thanks .
    My comments did not touch on anything in your reply. But since you made additional comments other than what I referred to – sure I agree that less are marrying and rise of single parent kids. Of course those factors create long term problems for a culture. But I reject that this phenomenon is caused by hypergamy. As explained in my original comment one cannot apply a term created to describe a survival instinct centuries ago when women had no choices other than to find a husband or male proxy to stay viable in the patriarchy and apply to modern -day.

    Hypergamy is a word . Words have meanings. The original term described a specific known reality that has long disappeared in western culture. There are numerous reasons for low marriage rates , and out of wedlock children but Hypergamy is not one of them.

    Women are not choosing to stay unmarried or have babies out of marriage because of a word that is defined as “the action of marrying or forming a sexual relationship with a person of a superior sociological or educational background.”

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Written by Tom Williams

Born down on the farm in America's Midwest, my early life was spent climbing the ladder via a long career in information technology. Starting as a technician, and after earning a degree going to night school, I eventually found a place working at ATT Bell Laboratories as a software engineer.

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