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Educated Black Women Have More Divorces Than Educated White Counterparts

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Married couples who have attained higher levels of education are less likely to divorce then less educated couples -- except in the African American community.

Photography by Nhophotos.com

According to research conducted by Dr. Jeounghee Kim, assistant professor at Rutgers School of Social Work, educated African American women have more divorces than educated white women. Generally speaking, married couples who have attained higher levels of education are less likely to divorce than less-educated couples. Unfortunately, in the Black community, education is not enough to sustain a marriage.

African-American women don’t seem to enjoy the same degree of protection that education confers on marriage,” said Dr. Kim. “For white Americans, higher education is related to a lower chance of divorce, and this protective effect of education on marriage increased consistently among the recent generations. But for African-American women, higher education is not necessarily related to a lower chance of divorce.”

During her research Dr. Kim’s analysis revealed that the percentage of white women with some post-secondary education continuously increased throughout the cohorts. This was not the case with African-American women, whose educational attainment peaked in the 1985-1994 cohorts before declining. (Read details about the study here.) Dr. Kim also found the percentage of white women getting divorced declined throughout the study period, while African-American women experienced an increase in the 1980s before declining in the 1990 to 1994 cohort. Dr. Kim said her findings were consistent with much existing literature that says that women with higher levels of education — and greater earning potential — make more attractive marriage partners. Also, their marriages tend to last longer than those of their counterparts — particularly among white women — with less education.

Here are the three possibilities Dr. Kim believes affects educated African American women’s ability to stay married:

1. Depreciating value of college education

“One possibility is that college education does not translate into the higher earnings that would help protect marriage for African-Americans,” Dr. Kim said.

2. Economic disparity in the black community

“Another could be that educational attainment may be insufficient to address the high levels of economic inequality that even well-educated African-Americans experience. Many are the first in their families to have attained a post-secondary education and do not benefit from the cushion of intergenerational wealth possessed by some white families,” Dr. Kim believes.

3. Gender gap in African-American’s educational attainment, with nearly twice as many African-American women college graduates as men

We see the increasing power of education protecting marriage within the same socioeconomic class. Well-educated white women may still have power to select an equally well-educated mate. Then, there may be a synergy factor — higher incomes, better and healthier lives, smarter kids — that helps sustain their marriage,” Dr. Kim said. She continues: “On the other hand, the return on higher education may not be the same for many African-American women, who have less chance to marry their educational equals. Also, because they are less likely to marry outside their race, their choices are limited.”

 

Why do you believe educated African-American women have more divorces than white educated women?

30 Comments

  1. DebNBrooklyn

    March 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    How does this study relate to the overall marriage numbers in the Black community? Are less educated Black women getting married at a higher rate than educated ones? Are they experiencing less divorces? I feel like the emphasis should be on the things that are preventing Black males and females from marrying in the first place.

  2. mmdccbslm

    March 11, 2013 at 1:02 am

    it’s understandable. they got too much going on to be with a brother.

    • B

      March 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

      What does a brotha have going on? I think that relates more to the issue.

      • mmdccbslm

        March 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm

        it was sarcasm

  3. BigWill

    March 11, 2013 at 1:33 am

    The author said “Also, because they are less likely to marry outside their race” I’m not completely convinced this is true but, if it is true who’s fault is that- the Black man?? Black women are free to date and marry whoever will marry them. It’s clear that BW hold deep seated animosity toward BM so, since BW are less likely to marry outside their race, it’s not because they are loyal to BM. Therefore, if they can’t get married or stay married don’t blame the BM for this.

  4. AB

    March 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Some women feel that if they have a college degree and earn more money than her husband who does not have a degree, that she is superior. Some of them make the husband feel that he is inadequate and that he should take a less authoritative in the family. This attitude can cause significant problems in a relationship.

    There are also situations when the man feels threatened, when there is no need to be. Some men think that because they are the man, they should make certain decisions and exert certain controls over the wife and household altogether.

    I think couples should work together to balance the their families regardless of who makes the most money or who has the most education. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and if couples can pool those strengths and weaknesses and work them to their advantages, they’d be a lot better off in the long run.

    • CS

      March 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I agree with your assessment of both women and men regarding this issue. I’d like to share some of the funny, yet somewhat sad dating experiences I have had with a few women.

      I’ve had three different women during the course of my career ask about my job titles and told me directly or indicated to me that I did not make enough or that I would never reach a certain income level high enough for them. I expressed interest in one young lady and she began her response with “What makes you think..” then caught herself. Then she proceeded to drill me with questions about my salary, place of work, my house, my neighborhood, and my car. She began telling me because she had 3 college degrees studies show we would not be able to communicate on the same level. I reminded her that in the few years that I had known her while working on church projects together, that we had had some conversations together unrelated to her work or her degrees.

      I have worked in many different positions in the computer field, but if it was a job title unfamiliar to these women, such as software engineer, then they assumed it was a low-paying job or dead end job. Through promotions, bonuses, and cost-of-living increases, my salary nearly doubled in seven years. Though I reached the high income level they were seeking, by that time I no longer had interest in them. I still think of them as good women and they considered me a good man, but their first love is money and I’m not trying to “keep up with the Joneses” as the saying goes.

      Some women have told me that they are afraid of messing everything up. They have reached a certain level of success where they are very comfortable and are afraid they will lose their independence in marriage. Also, some women have been hurt so badly by men, that it becomes difficult for them to trust that a marriage will work. All in all, I think there is too much emphasis on men not willing to commit to marriage, and too little attention on the commitment issues of some of our women.

      • B

        March 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

        @CS so because you’re dealing with idiots then that makes Black women with degrees all bad?

        If someone claims to have a ton o degreesand does know what a computer engineer does, then they are 1. lying about their education or 2. should kill themselves because they are still stupid.

        I think the bigger issue is who both men and women choose. Stop dipping in the dingbat pool for both parties and maybe you’ll get better results

  5. MsA

    March 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Well said AB…..

  6. Hiroader2

    March 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    The traditional marriages of years past no longer exist.. Keep in mind with the 70% percent unwedded single African American women family came before marriage.. also consider families generating “from merely -” casual relations .. Divorce courts have shamefully awarded separations for more frivolous issues than serious relationship matters.. Personal opinion regardless the black women vs white women divorce statistics.. Recently the social route of relations between the races if you factor in education & incomes slightly vary… Marriage period has become a unpopular social standard for alot of people regardless the education, income or race…
    ,..

    • B

      March 12, 2013 at 9:10 am

      traditional marriages of the past were, women were property, she didn’t work and her husband made all the money and the decisions. Of course that no longer exists.

      Once men are taught to cope with progressive women who have opinions and women are taught to adjust to being a woman with education and options as well as a wife, things will be much better

  7. deech

    March 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    So let’s see:

    As per the article, educated black women have more divorces than their white counterparts.

    Black women are also not into IR.

    With that said, black women and black men may be marrying, but end up divorcing later on down the line.

    JUST LIKE THEIR NON-BLACK COUNTERPARTS!

    over 50% of marriages are ending in divorce in this god-forsaken country.

    How the fukk does this JUST pertain to black women?

    what’s your point, Lloyd? Seriously, these articles against bw need to cease.

  8. stefhen bryan

    March 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Educated black american women need to just STFU and step across the race line. Its really that simple.

    • deech

      March 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Many have taken note and doing just that…

  9. Charles Williams

    March 12, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Some very good points have been made on this issue of husband and wife. It seems to me that the most important elements have been consider to be not important. What happen to the element of love because you connect to that person you married on a deep spiritual level? What happen to cooperation with that person you love, because you want that person to be happy? Realizing that when we make others happy we are happy too.Money has no power of its own, except for how well we use it to obtain the things necessary to maintain our lives. If we have the things necessary to maintain our lives, then having money is irrelevant. Having a loving spouse to count on when you are not able to do for self because of physical illness, or emotional pain for losing a family member is priceless.

  10. Fatima

    March 12, 2013 at 1:40 am

    Why others are afraid of Black Love? How many focus group the Associate Prof.conduct with black educated married couples and the same for white couples.This article is very misleading.

  11. Sidney Moutra

    March 12, 2013 at 1:58 am

    It has been written and you have heard envy not your oppressor neither follow in his ways. Many of our people strayed from our traditional love that has subtained our people in the past when they had nothing else. I am talking about the kind of love that made us run back on the plantation to take our bothers and sisters to freedom, the kind of love we had when some of us rode the train alone as kids and the pullman porters looked out for you, they made sure you had something to eat and made you feel as if you were ridding frist class. In other words I’m just say Love is the answer,

  12. Peter D. Slaughter

    March 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    It’s to bad a but a vast % of black women just don’t get it.
    ole massa gave all these black women these jobs and access to all this credit to buy car,clothes and jewlery.
    Once they got all that a vast % figured they were set. ” I dont need a black man ” if not that one ” I dont need a n word ”
    What they forgot were not paying attention to,was ole massa was planning getting rid of these black people have all these jobs and looking all good.
    So while a % of black women fell for that trick,that left the black man on sideline with his lips poked out and all mad and upset.
    She done left me…
    The same time all these white women who have been wanting a black man for years said ” ah ha ” I am going to get me one now ” a black man
    a n word.
    In spite of all this happening a vast % of black women, and men still let ole massa trick them.

    • deech

      March 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

      STFU Peter.

      And WTF is this ‘ol Massa’ drivel? You’re not on a plantation and the slaves have been freed a long time ago, so talk like you have a brain, please.

      The days of blaming white people have to cease and black folks like you need to take accountability for your actions.

      Black people marry and divorce and so are other non-black couples.

  13. Karl Collins

    May 29, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Everything begins with the man. When a man knows who he is in God and translate that into daily living it is a beautiful thing. We must change the culture and climate that does not support us being real men. When men know how to love a woman and women know how to respect a man, our families and communities will thrive. Karl

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