Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It is a truth universally acknowledged

These two nuggets of information seem to perhaps be related, but I am not quite sure how.

From Whom loves ya? by Geoffrey K. Pullum.
Wired magazine has just published a large-scale statistical study of what correlates with numbers of responses to online dating ads (and let me say here that I am deeply grateful to Charles Hallinan for pointing it out to me). Much of the survey relates to the words used in the ad. For example, mentioning yoga or surfing in your ad has a positive influence on the number of contacts that will result. Some of the discoveries are curious: for men, it is much better to refer to a woman using the word "woman", but a woman's ad will do better if she refers to herself as a "girl". And (the point that has turned my life around, made on the infographic here), it turns out that men who use "whom" get 31% more contacts from opposite-sex respondents.


And the obvious inference from the fact Wired has uncovered is that, influenced by the educational stress on the importance of that pesky final accusative-marking -m, women use occurrence of whom as a surrogate for evidence of intelligence.
So language use as a signal for status and fitness. Makes sense.

Now, from Pew Research, Record share of wives are more educated than their husbands by Wendy Wang.
The trend toward wives being more educated than their husbands is even more prevalent among newlyweds, partly because younger women have surpassed men in higher education in the past two decades. In 2012, 27% of newlywed women married a spouse whose education level was lower than theirs. By contrast, only 15% of newlywed men married a spouse with less education.
But note this.
Does marrying someone with less education mean “marrying down” economically? Not necessarily. When we look at the newlywed women who married someone with less education, we find that a majority of these women actually “married up.” In 2012, only 39% of newlywed women who married a spouse with less education out-earned their husband, and a majority of them (58%) made less than their husband.
Up is down, what's old is new. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" and our universities are there to provide for that want.

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