Report Finds Racial Differences in Divorce Rates for Highly Educated Women

Jeounghee_KimGenerally, married couples who have achieved a high level of educational attainment are less likely to get divorced than their less educated peers. But a new study by Jeounghee Kim, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, finds that highly educated Black women are not as sheltered from divorce compared to highly educated women of other racial and ethnic groups.

Past studies have shown that highly educated women make attractive marriage partners because they have high earnings potential. As a result, their spouses tend to work to keep the marriage intact. Dr. Kim suggests that Black women with high levels of education may not have the same protections against divorce because for Blacks college education does not necessarily “translate into higher earnings that would help protect marriage.” She adds, “Educational attainment may be insufficient to address the high levels of economic inequality that even well-educated African Americans experience.”

Not to be discounted is the fact that a large number of highly educated Black women are unable to find Black men as mates who have similar levels of education due to the large gender gap in higher education degree attainments among African Americans. This education gap can lead to family friction that may increase the risk of divorce or separation.

Dr. Kim’s research was published in the journal Family Relations. She is a graduate of Busan National University in South Korea and holds a master of social work degree from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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