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Importance of Careful Mate Selection

Dr. Kelly Raley, associate professor of sociology and affiliate of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, says the negative health consequences of a bad marriage and divorce underscore the importance of why individuals should be extremely careful in mate selection.

Posted: March 3, 2008
In addition to her research on relationships, Dr. Kelly Raley is an investigator of the PRC's Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement study.

In the study, "Not Even if You Were the Last Person on Earth," Raley examined how the process of mate selection influences the timing of marriage.

The median age of marriage has climbed steadily since the early 1970s. In 1970, the median age for women to marry was 20.8 and for men, 23.2. By 1995, both men's and women's median age at marriage had increased 3.7 years, to 26.9 and 24.5, respectively.

"An explanation for delays in marriage past age 23 could be that there is a growing mismatch between what men are looking for in a mate and what women are looking for," Raley says. "If both men and women hope to improve their financial status by marrying a higher-earning spouse, it will take longer for both to find a suitable mate."

Raley found that men who were unwilling to marry a woman who earned
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