What are the ingredients of a successful marriage? According to the National Center for Health Statistics report First Marriages in the United States, one of the most important ingredients--for women at least--is a college degree. Nothing guarantees a successful (i.e. long-lasting) marriage more than having a bachelor's degree. The percentage of women whose first marriage has lasted for 20 years ranges from a low of 39 percent among those who did not graduate from high school to a high of 78 percent among those with a bachelor's degree. The relationship between educational attainment and marital success is weaker for men, but still important, with the figure ranging from a low of 47 percent among men with no more than a high school diploma to a high of 65 percent among men with a bachelor's degree.
The answer to this mystery has nothing to do with love and everything to do with money. Increasingly, and almost exclusively, economic success accrues to men with a bachelor's degree. Women who graduate from college are far more likely than less-educated women to meet and marry a man with a college degree. Money--and men's ability to earn it--is the most important ingredient of a successful marriage.