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Why Saying "I Do" Later is Better for College-Educated Women

Update Date: Mar 20, 2013 09:21 PM EDT

For all the single ladies out there, it's probably a good thing he didn't put a ring on it. Saying "I do" later in life is financially beneficial for women, but not for men, according to a new report on marriage.

It's not secret that Americans are waiting longer to tie the knot.  The latest statistics show that the average age of first marriage is at an all-time high, with the average American woman entering her first marriage at age 27 and the average American man at 29, compared to 23 and 26 in 1990 and 20 and 22 in 1960.

In light of this growing U.S. trend, researchers at the University of Virginia wanted to look at the wins and losses of delaying marriage.

In a new report entitled "Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America," researchers revealed that the consequences are different depending on who you are.

The study revealed that college-educated women benefit financially from marrying later with those who marry in their 30s earning on average 56 percent more than those who tie the knot 10 years earlier.

While women actually benefit financially from delayed marriages, men who settle down earlier in life are likely to be more successful later on.  Researchers found that men who wed in their 20s make more money in their mid-30s compared to men who wait to marry until after 30, regardless of education level.

Unsurprisingly, the study reveals that childbirth plays a significant role in these results. In a 2013 TED talk, University of Virginia clinical psychologist Meg Jay, explained that around two-thirds of lifetime income growth happens during the first decade of a career.  And because college-educated women who marry early also tend to have their fist child earlier, it forces them to come to a standstill in the race to the top of the corporate ladder during its most vital stage.

However, not all women who wait to marry reap financial benefits.  Researchers found that while college-educated women profit from tying the knot later, those without a college degree do not.  Researchers explain that this could be because the average age of first birth among less-educated women has not risen with the age of marriage.  According to The Atlantic, 83 percent of first births among women who drop out of high school are to unmarried mothers. Women with no college diplomas therefore have less time to move forward in their careers during its first decade.

Researchers also found that while men who never marry earn significantly less than those who do, spinster women earn significantly more than their married counterparts. 

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