Meat Market or Marriage Market?

Women Get Married Younger & to Older Guys in Cities Where Men Outnumber

A new University of Michigan study examined the ratio of men to women in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to see how it affected marital ages.

Daniel Kruger, UM research assistant professor, says women want commitment from men because having a stable provider benefits their children. So, if they want to compete for a woman to settle down with, all men have to worry about is increasing their social status and resources (we ask that you try to stay in decent shape too, men). But men aren't as likely to want to commit--since, from an evolutionary perspective, Kruger explains, men can have more offspring by having multiple sex partners. Um, obvi.

Now let's take these gender generalizations and throw in some laws of supply and demand. Kruger explains that women have more bargaining power when there are fewer of them around: "The guys who are qualified will snap up the women and get hitched, whereas others need more time to build up their resources and social status." So when women are scarce, the marrying age for men varies more and the age gap between spouses widens. While a three to four year age gap is typical, it's more like five or six years when there are fewer ladies.

In Vegas, where there are six men for every five women, the median marrying age for men is 28.3 and for women is 24.5. In Birmingham, Alabama, where there are 11 women for every 10 men (shit, dude), the age gap is a lot smaller, with the median marrying age for men and women being 26.9 and 26.7, respectively.

Kruger also throws in this fun finding: women become more promiscuous when they outnumber men and STD rates increase. Is this all some kind of cruel joke?

Guess the results of this study might help explain the throngs of hot, single 30-something women club hopping in NYC, a city known for its disproportionately high levels of estrogen (our "field research," not Michigan's).

Alas, if you're looking to increase your odds of marrying young, you could pick up and move to Vegas. Though we can't help but wonder what the divorce rate is there...


University of Michigan (2010, September 15). Women: Hope to marry young? Head to Alaska, steer clear of Alabama. EurekAlert! Retrieved from


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