Dear Economist: Is it wise to marry a career woman?

I remember reading that men shouldn’t marry career women because such wives were more likely to have affairs and/or seek divorce. Is this based on research? Not that I am facing an imminent choice of marriage partner.

Eligible Bachelor, London

Dear Eligible Bachelor,

You may be thinking of an article in Forbes, published two years ago, which caused a stir by summarising academic research suggesting that professional women are “more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat and less likely to have children”.

Tone aside, this makes sense. Children interrupt the careers of women more than of men, and so women with rewarding careers face a high opportunity cost when having children. And a woman whose husband turns out to be a pig will find it easier to leave him if she has an independent income.

However, research by Zvika Neeman and two other economists at Boston University suggests that career women have more stable marriages, in part because they marry late, and carefully.

Even if true, the Forbes piece is hardly a knockdown argument. Or if it is, one might equally counsel against an heiress (too independent) or a beauty (too many admirers).

In any case, remember this is the 21st century. You say you have no imminent prospects of marriage. I am not surprised.

Questions to economist@ft.com

Tim Harford’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.