With male economic prospects declining and females increasing, women are less likely to marry and have families with men who aren’t on the track for success. The education gap is having a profound effect on marriage and family life. According to Paul Harrington of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, we are now seeing a “marriage gap,” where educated women are finding it more and more difficult to find partners that they consider equals.
The complaint that there aren’t enough “good men” available is particularly noticeable for college-educated African American or Hispanic women. African American men receive about half as many college degrees as black women and Hispanic men are outpaced 60 percent to 40 percent by Hispanic women. What has been true for minority women for some time, is now becoming true for mainstream women. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Creating a Life says that the more successful the woman, the more difficult it will be for her to find a mate or bear a child.
From a man’s point of view his prospects are becoming diminished. Without a good education he can’t get a good job. Without a good job he can’t get a good woman who wants to settle down and create a family with him. Without a family a man becomes increasingly isolated, irritable, angry, and depressed. What I describe as the Irritable Male Syndrome is one of the primary results.
In losing out in the world of work, men are losing a part of the male role that has always been at the heart of what it means to be a man. “It is no longer possible for men to hunt for their daily bread and bacon in literal terms,” says Lionel Tiger. “Man the Hunter is profoundly unemployable at the job he did well for hundreds of thousands of years.”
As women have fewer children, more are choosing to raise them without the involvement of the father. “More women are having children without men, and therefore more men are without the love of families, says anthropologist Lionel Tiger. “With startling new techniques, unprecedented arrangements have been struck for insemination, conception, implantation, frozen embryos, and surrogate mothers. Adoption has become an international trading pattern as infertile nationals of one country import the children of other countries with more children and fewer resources.”
Increasingly it is women who are having and raising the children. If present trends continue, by 2004 nearly half of all Americans born will be to single mothers. “Meanwhile, men fade out of the picture,” says Tiger. This trend is occurring all over the world. In Thailand and Brazil, for example, 20 percent of households are headed by women; in the Dominican Republic and Hong Kong, the figure is 26 percent; in Ghana it is 29 percent.
As men become separated from their roles as father, they also lose incentive to fulfill other roles of breadwinner, protector, nurturer, teacher, and mentor. Without significant roles to play in the life of his family, men become increasingly angry and violent. One of the leading predictors of violence in countries throughout the world is the percentage of young men between the ages of 20 and 29 who are not married.
Countries with large percentages of young men in this age group include Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Turkey, Egypt, India, Afghanistan, China, and Israel. We don’t have to be experts in world politics to know that these countries are also the ones where war and violence is a constant concern. According to Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc., a leading futurist consulting group in the United States, “The most destabilizing geopolitical force in the world today is the vast number of young men without jobs and other opportunities.”