[color=green:101250fe81][b:101250fe81]Men scarce, so women settle for less [/b:101250fe81][/color:101250fe81]
15 March 2006

A "man drought" is leading New Zealand women to marry less well-educated, poorer men. The trend of "marrying down" has been identified by Department of Labour researchers studying a deficit of men in the 20 to 49-year age group.

New Zealand is short of somewhere between 33,000 and 53,000 men in that age group, which means slim pickings for women looking for a mate. Demographer Paul Callister has been investigating what is behind this lack of eligible New Zealand men and looking at the implications. Callister said the most significant finding of his research was a 10 per cent increase in the past two decades in highly educated women marrying men with fewer qualifications and, in many cases, lower-paid jobs.

This had happened largely because of a lack of eligible partners of equal educational or economic status, he said. The trend was likely to become more pronounced in the next decade because of higher numbers of women in tertiary education. This trend would affect things such as fertility rates, as these highly educated women ? earning more than their spouses ? chose to continue working longer, then remain in employment while their partner stayed home and cared for the children.

Callister said negotiating work-life arrangements and childcare options was, in the future, likely to become a more pressing issue for men. While there was definitely a gap between numbers of men and women aged between 20 and 49, Callister said the "man drought" was not as severe as previously thought.

"I think the man drought was hyped up," he said.
Updated population projections showed there was probably only 33,000 more women than men aged between 20 to 49, not the 53,000 estimated from 2001 census data, Callister said. The greatest imbalance, according to the 2005 figures, was between men and women in the 30 to 34 age group, with an extra 9 per cent of females in that group. Callister said it was difficult to pinpoint exact reasons for the surplus of women but said men ? particularly young men, Maori and Pacific Islanders ? failing to fill in census or statistical forms was one major reason.

More women than men immigrating from Asia had played a minor role in the discrepancy.