Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some men marry younger women...a lot younger

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's recent announcement that he will marry for the third time isn't big news in my book. I don't really care much about what goes on the the Playboy Mansion. But it got me to thinking about a study from Stanford University that basically proves older men tend to marry younger woman. And the older they are, the younger the woman is. In Hef's case the age gap is a bit extreme; He's 84, his bride-to-be is in her 20s.
Am I resentful? Not really, but if you are a 60 & Single woman looking for a partner, you have to face the demographic facts.
The study from 2008, cites such notables as John McCain, Donald Trump, Woody Allen and Larry Ellison as examples of older men with younger (dare I say), trophy wives. OK, but it's not just about rich guys, prestige or fame. In fact, according to Stanford University research, success may not have much to do with it.
"The older a man is when he marries after 40, the greater the likelihood that his bride will be significantly younger - whether that man is wealthy or not," said the Mercury-News about the study. "The poor guys marry down (in age) just as much as the rich guys do," Paula England, a Stanford sociologist and study co-author, told the newspaper at the time. "That was kind of surprising to us."
Men in their 40s tend to marry women who average seven years younger while men in their 50s are marrying women on average 11 years younger. Men in their 60s? They marry women who are 13 years younger.
So what's it all about?
A therapist friend of mine told me that a certain group of men have more trouble looking in the mirror as they age. One way to feel younger, more energized, is to hook up with a younger woman. Viagra helps to make it easier to ignore the ticking clock. But there also are men, said my professional friend, who prefer the company of a woman near their own age because they have more in common with someone who has lived in the same time frame, who has similar experiences (maybe the death of a spouse) or simply has enjoyed the same rock and roll band. From my own experience, among over-60 men that I know who have lost their wives in the past two years, all now are in new relationships. The good news is that at least among these men (I'm up to five and counting), they ALL are remarried to women more or less their own age.
First marriage gap
According to the Stanford study, in first marriages, men are near the same age as the women they marry.
But, "the older men are when they marry, and it doesn't matter whether it's a first or a second marriage, the more years they marry down," England said.
While the age differential is narrowing in first marriages, a significant portion of husbands are still substantially older than their wives.
In about one-third of American marriages, husbands are at least four years older than their wives, according to 2006 Census data. Wives are more than four years older in just 7 percent.
Still, according to the Mercury-News reporting, "in a first marriage, the median age difference is about 1.6 years between brides and grooms - much less than a generation ago.
That narrowing points to a overall trend toward more egalitarian marriages, argues Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage."
"You're still getting a lot of guys who marry down" in age, Coontz said, "but I think that obscures a trend to more age-equal, more power-equal relationships," she told the Mercury-News.
What demographers call the "Second Demographic Transition" - the explosion in divorce after the 1960s - has increased the potential for wider marital age gaps, with more people marrying or remarrying later in life. With both older and younger men chasing younger women, the law of supply and demand makes the marriage market a tough place for middle-age people of both genders, England said in the Mercury-News story. "For women, the marriage market may be limited to potential husbands who are significantly older, because many men of the same age are interested in younger women," she said.
From my experience, there's hope. Those of us 60 & Single, still look really good to those guys in their 70s and 80s who want to shack up, travel, enjoy a good bottle of wine and "snuggle"....whatever that means. And there are plenty of men out there who would prefer the maturity of a woman near their age...someone who they can talk with rather than someone who talks at them.
"After the Loss of a Spouse, There is no Right Amount of Time Before Moving On," WSJ click here.


  1. This is rubbish because the statistics show that only 7% of all marriages have an age gap of ten years or more. The remaining 93% of marriages are between peers, people within five years of each other. The statistics are almost identical for the US, UK and Australia. It's silly to pick out examples such as Donald trump our woody Allen. They are multi millionaires who can have whatever they want.

  2. This has nothing to do with all marriages. This study (Stanford) has to do with older men who statistically tend to marry younger women. The older the man (over 60), the younger the woman with whom they partner tends to be. First marriages are likely to be between people who are more or less the same age. But as men age, they often seek out younger women.
    We use Woody Allen and Donald Trump as examples only because they are well known. Among my own friends, a recently widowed (just over a year) 70 year old man is now shacked up with a 40-something woman. His family is worried about her motives.

  3. I have been to weddings in the past 18 months where two of my friends remarried in their forties to men in their forties. ??? Also If I want to know what's going on in society, I look around me. In fact I see a lot of divorced and separated women dating younger men. Perhaps all older people prefer younger as they get older themselves. Or perhaps the trend is different The US. I live uk.