The Monash University report, based on analysis of data from the 2006 national census, suggests that wedlock was increasingly becoming the province of the well-educated and wealthy.
“There’s something new going on, particularly among women,” said researcher Genevieve Heard of the university’s Centre for Population and Urban Research.
“It’s long been assumed that more educated women are less traditional and more financially independent and are therefore less likely to need to or want to marry. And indeed, this assumption has been borne out in the data for a long time,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“But now, in the 2006 data, we can see that in fact the pattern has reversed so that women with post-school qualifications, especially those with degrees, are now in fact more likely to be married than their counterparts with less education.”
The research found that while the marriage rate was falling overall, for women aged over 30 it was declining rapidly for those with only a high school education.
The census data on women aged 30 to 34 revealed that in 1996, 64 per cent of women with a bachelor degree or higher were married, slightly less than the 65 per cent of women in the same age group who did no extra study after school.