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Expand chart
Data: General Social Survey by NORC at the University of Chicago; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

White, educated, employed and richer Americans are more likely to have a steady romantic partner than their less privileged counterparts, according to new data by NORC by Chicago University.

Why it matters: The deep racial and socio-economic disparities in the U.S. shape the kinds of romantic relationships people can afford to have, which in turn perpetuate inequalities for future generations. "It matters because it’s a way that inequalities get reproduced," said Breanna Perelli-Harris, an associate professor in demography at the University of Southampton.

Between the lines: Steady relationships — when they are healthy — bring benefits including more financial resources, tax breaks, sex, needed social connection and a more stable upbringing for children, according to researchers and demographers. Children from stable relationships are then also more likely to grow up with better opportunities to find a wealthy, educated partner.

The trend is not new, but the impacts have become more pronounced over the past decade as social and economic gaps in the U.S. grow, Richard Fry a senior researcher at Pew Research Center told Axios.

  • People tend to have "a sense that the prerequisite for marriage is the ability to hold a steady job," June Carbone, Chair in Law, Science and Technology at University of Minnesota told Axios.
  • Meanwhile economic uncertainty, globalization and shifting job markets make it more difficult for less advantaged Americans to achieve the financial status expected for a reliable mate, Perelli-Harris said.
  • This has contributed to lower-income Americans cycling in and out of partnerships, which grow further apart as they get older as well as a normalizing of out-of-wedlock births.
  • More than half of births to Hispanic women and 69% to black women in 2017 were out of wedlock, compared to just 28% of whites and 11% of Asians, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The big picture: Americans are postponing marriage across the board, and the share of Americans not in cohabitating relationships (married or unmarried) is growing despite an aging population., Fry pointed out.

  • The wealthier and more educated are also delaying marriage, but they're still much more likely to eventually end up married. Marriage has even become a status symbol for some of the elite, Perelli-Harris said.

What to watch: The romantic opportunity divide is expected to continue to grow, Naomi Cahn, professor of law at George Washington University and expert in the impact of social inequality on marriage told Axios. The children of those with more privilege will in turn be afforded more opportunity for education, wealth and love.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
22 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Huawei sanctions snarled chip supply chains

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largely successful U.S. effort to hobble China's Huawei has benefitted a host of other tech companies — from smartphone makers such as Apple and Xiaomi to chipmakers like Qualcomm to network vendors including Nokia and Ericsson.

Yes, but: The massive disruption to the industry furthered an industry wide mismatch between supply and demand, exacerbating the global chip shortage.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
42 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about system racism in the U.S.