Partner prospect expectations and its problems

So there's been a study showing that men who are unemployed or poorly employed tend to more likely to be single and remain single. The Age has been kindly enough to interview a range of professional single women in their thirties, ala sex in the city, most bemoaning the lack of self-starting independent men with spinal cords and capital. The implication being that if women were only to be more realistic (ie undiscerning) about men, all would be well, the declining birth rate stopped, and the future of entire (western) civilisation assured.

Strong stuff indeed.

So lets have a look at the assumptions:

– women are increasingly getting better educated, obtaining better positions and taking home higher salaries – this combination referred to from now on as "prospects"; an old fashioned term but one which i think suits this situation quite well.

– women prefer partners who have equal or better prospects than themselves, presumably due to biological programming that seeks to make superior offspring as well as seek dependable providers

– men prefer partners who have equal or lesser prospects than themselves, presumably because the same biological programming to make superior offspring in this case is insufficiently strong to combat the frailties of the male ego

– there are now approximately the same distribution of men and women prospects respectively with higher numbers in the lower ranges and lower numbers in the higher ranges. This can be visualised as two pyramids, one for each gender, with each level of the pyramid the number of men or women with those prospects

– effects of other factors such as physical appearance, emotional capability, personality, compatibility, affordable childcare, balanced work-life considerations, etc can be discounted

What this means is that:

– there is higher competition amongst women for men with higher prospects than themselves

– as a man, the higher your prospects are, the larger your range of willing mates

– at higher prospect levels, there are more single women and less single men

– at lower prospect levels, there are less single women and more single men

– in general, there are less partnered people

The study has proposed that a good solution would be to increase education and employment of those men with the lowest prospects. Unfortunately, if those assumptions are correct, this probably will not work as the largest numbers of single women appear to be those at the highest prospect levels.

It is unlikely that any amount of education is going to elevate your average joe of the breakfast bong and dole office level to the elevated heights of Armani suitdom required to attract the thirty something professional single girl. So, merely elevating the lowest prospects levels will just increase the pool of men competing for women at the lowest prospect levels. That is there’ll be a lot of checkout chaps competing for the checkout chicks leaving the thirty something professional single girl as forlorn as ever.

So, if an education/employment solution is to be had, it would need to increase every single male prospect level relative to every single female prospect level. The numbers of men in middle management must swell in proportion to the numbers of bong-on joes entering the job market but always in greater numbers than the numbers of women in middle management and so forth.

Unfortunately, this is probably not doable or desirable as in effect what would result is a form of general gender based inequality of prospects. Considering that gender relative prospects while catching up are still currently not equal (ie: full-time employed men still in general earn more than full-time employed women) and we are already feeling the effects of a declining birthrate, it means that much greater prospect disparity would be required.

The conservative ideal solution and one implicit in this worldview is that the majority of women should exit from the workplace to focus on the skills of child-rearing, home-making, pickle-jarring, male-ego-stroking and so forth. That is to completely flatten the female prospect pyramid and allow men at all levels of their pyramid to graze at will on this green pasture.

When faced with this, the much more reasonable alternative is for women to reduce their unrealistic expectations of prospects in men and permit and indeed invite if not beseech men at all levels of their pyramid to graze at will.

Personally, if the birth-rate of our nation depends so wholly on the relative prospects of men, women and such material requirements, I see little hope for us.