A growing number of highly educated women marry men with lower academic credentials. Statistics Korea data on 2 million couples who married between 1995 and 2015 show that the proportion of women marrying less educated men rose from 7.5 percent of all couples to 11.6 percent over the decade.
In 2015, 235,085 couples got married and 27,173 were a woman with a university degree marrying a high-school graduates or a woman with a high school diploma marrying a man who did not finish high school.
Chung Soon-dol at Ewha Womans University said, “In the past, women tended to prefer men with higher academic credentials, but nowadays they prefer men with stable jobs regardless of their academic achievements”.
Chung said among people in their late 20s, where female university graduates outnumber male ones, “degrees are no longer a determining factor”.
And Cho Young-tae at Seoul National University said, “As unemployment and layoffs rose among graduates after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the luster of university degrees has faded and actual income-generating power has become more important”.
There has also been a decline in couples where husbands are older than wives, falling from 72.8 percent in 2005 to 67.6 percent in 2015. And the proportion of couples of the same age also fell slightly to 16 percent in 2015. Instead, there were more couples where the bride is older than the groom, climbing from 12.1 percent to 16.3 percent over the same period.
That is especially prevalent among women in their 30s, averaging 17.6 percent but soaring to about one-third of women in their late 30s.