Sorry, Poor People: Going to College Might Ruin Your Chance to Get Married

According to personal finance experts and many colorful charts, attending college can significantly increase one's lifetime earning potential. Unfortunately, if you're poor and get yourself a fancy degree, you'll be too highfalutin for your poor peers and smell too much of the servant caste to be accepted by your wealthy classmates. And you'll never find love and die alone face down with your face in a New Yorker and your ringless hand in a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

Research conducted at Cornell University reveals the awkward position Poors find themselves in after breaking ranks with their parents and cohorts by attending college. Researchers followed 3,200 subjects from youth into adulthood and tracked their marital fates. They found that while college attendance significantly increases wealthy people's chances of getting married (wealthy men who attend college are 31% more likely to marry than wealthy men who don't; wealthy women up their chances by 8%), lower income students who attend college actually decrease their chances of getting married. Women from an economically disadvantaged background who decide to attend college decrease their chances of marrying by 22%; for poorer men, their odds drop 31%. And the poorer you were as a kid, the more college attendance decreased the likelihood you'd marry.

So what gives? The Cornell brigade thinks that lower income students struggle to socially assimilate to their wealthier peers because they're "caught between two worlds." Their education differentiates them from people from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, but their socioeconomic background alienates them from their schoolmates. They don't want to settle with someone from back home and "marry down," but they aren't able to "marry up." They're the matrimonial equivalent of a fish with legs who can't swim anymore but can't run around with the rodents and deer. Or Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back. Or a jewel encrusted Carhart jacket.

All of this is probably a familiar tune From The Department Of No Shit for kids who grew up without much money and had difficulty relating to their wealthier classmates in college. But the study fails to consider whether or not the low income college students want to get married at the same rate as their wealthy/college educated or low income/uneducated peers. Is it possible that low income students who attend college had to overcome so much in the pursuit of their education that they don't place as much value in getting married? Or is there an entire class of ex-Poors who spend their lonely evenings having their very tears rejected from the Haagen Dazs they're trying to cry into?

And should low rates of marriage be concerning at all? It's possible that the low income unmarried college attenders actually live fulfilling, happy lives without a partner. After all, it's better to be alone than being legally compelled to live in close proximity with someone who makes you want to claw your face off. And the sublime perfection of not having the shit annoyed out of you every day is something that money can't buy.

College reduces odds of marriage among disadvantaged [Eurekalert]