Educational level plays a role in duration of heterosexual relationships

Relationships in which the woman has a higher educational attainment than the man still fail more often than relationships in which the roles are reversed. The fact that women enroll in higher education more often than men has not brought about any change in this.

photo Shutterstock

According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the educational level of partners seriously affects the duration of a relationship. In the past, couples in which the man has a higher educational attainment stayed together longer. The stability of couples in which the woman had attained a higher diploma, on the other hand, decreased. It was assumed that the improved economic situation of women harmed the traditional division of roles between a man and a woman.

Reversed roles

This held true for the second half of the twentieth century, when men used to have a higher level of education. Nowadays, the roles are reversed. The number of women in the research group with a higher vocational or university diploma is 35 percent, against 29 percent of men.

This is also reflected in relationships: in 20 percent of relationships, the woman now has a higher educational attainment than the man; in 13 percent of relations, the roles are reversed, according to the CBS. Partners have an equal diploma in slightly more than two-thirds of couples.

Does this affect the domestic relations? The divorce risk is highest when neither partner has a high level of education. Of these couples, 31 percent split after 12 years. In cases where both better halves are highly educated, this number is 19 percent. The risk of a divorce for couples where one partner is highly educated lies somewhere between.


Interestingly enough, the CBS says it still matters whether the man or the woman has a high educational attainment. If this applies only to the woman, the relationship breaks down more often. The fact that the educational level of women has increased more substantially during the last decades than that of men has not brought about any changes.

A relationship has the best chance of success when both partners are highly educated, the CBS concludes. These partners are supposedly better equipped at dealing with unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment, and they agree on the important things in life quicker.

Share this article