Primary Sources

Smart women stay single; why religious Americans fear Muslims; Israel's surprisingly bright demographic future; are the left-handed better in a fight?

Too Smart to Marry

The bad news is coming fast for brainy career women. For one thing, they're less likely to get married—perhaps because (according to a study recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior) men prefer to date and marry women who occupy subordinate positions in the workplace, or because (according to a survey carried out by four British universities) female intelligence itself reduces the odds of wedlock. (The latter study found that for every 15-point increase in IQ score above the average, women's likelihood of marrying fell by almost 60 percent.) And another study, led by a professor at Ohio State University, suggests that women who do get married and have children will see their job prospects diminish. Two hundred undergraduates were asked to make hiring and promotion recommendations for a law firm based on résumés that differed only as to sex and whether the applicant was married with children. The result: women with children were less likely to be hired and promoted than either men or childless women, whereas men with children were actually favored in hiring over their childless male counterparts.

From the archives:

Primary Sources: The Wages of Marriage (November 2004)
A study explored why married men earn more than single men.

"Relational Dominance and Mate-Selection Criteria: Evidence That Males Attend to Female Dominance," Stephanie L. Brown and Brian P. Lewis, Evolution and Human Behavior; "Childhood IQ and Marriage by Mid-life: the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 and the Midspan Studies," Personality and Individual Differences; "Mothers and Fathers in the Workplace: How Gender and Parental Status Influence Judgments of Job-Related Competence," Journal of Social Issues

The Morning After

When the idea of making Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill, available over the counter in America was introduced, last year, advocates predicted that it would reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy, while opponents predicted that it would encourage risky sexual behavior. Now the results of a trial study of San Francisco—area women aged fifteen to twenty-four, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that both predictions were wrong: among the women studied—none of whom intended to get pregnant—neither sexual activity nor conception was affected by the relative ease of access to the pill. Results were the same among those who were given the pill in advance, those who were instructed to pick it up over the counter at a designated pharmacy, and those who were told to get a prescription from a local clinic. About 40 percent of the women in each group reported having unprotected sex, and eight percent in each of the three groups became pregnant. The women who had unprotected sex are part of a national trend: according to the latest government health study on contraceptive use, the proportion of women aged fifteen to forty-four who weren't trying to get pregnant but nevertheless had sex without using birth control in the months surveyed rose from about 5.5 percent in 1995 to about 7.5 percent in 2002—a small but statistically significant increase.

"Direct Access to Emergency Contraception Through Pharmacies and Effect on Unintended Pregnancy and STIs," JAMA; "Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982–2002," National Center for Health Statistics

Suspicious Minds

Jesus taught Christians to "love thy neighbor." According to a recent survey by researchers at Cornell University, however, the more religious the American, the less likely he is to love (or at least trust) his Muslim neighbors. For instance, 42 percent of the highly religious (versus only 15 percent of citizens who are "not very religious") believe that American Muslims should have to register their whereabouts with the government; 34 percent (versus 13 percent) say that U.S. mosques should be monitored; and 40 percent (versus 19 percent) look favorably on government infiltration of Islamic civic and volunteer organizations. The highly religious are also more distrustful the more attention they pay to TV news. While it's true that all the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, none of them were Americans. So why do the religious mistrust American Muslims? The survey contains a hint: 65 percent of "highly religious" Americans believe that Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence.

primary sources chart

"Restrictions on Civil Liberties, Views of Islam, and Muslim Americans," Media & Society Research Group, Cornell University


Overestimating the Palestinians

For some time now Israel has been haunted by fears of demographic doom—fears that a swelling Arab population, both in the Palestinian territories and in Israel itself, will make the Jewish state politically untenable. Now a team of American and Israeli researchers insists that those fears are based on dramatic overestimates of present-day Palestinian population size and birth rates. These overestimates, they argue, are derived from 1997 projections of the Palestine Bureau of Statistics (rather than from actual population counts), which predicted that the Palestinian population would grow by four to five percent a year, and that the occupied territories would experience net immigration. In fact, judging from birth data and border entry/exit data, Palestinian birth rates have dropped far below the projected level, while the West Bank and Gaza have experienced net emigration. The authors estimate the actual Palestinian population at about 2.4 million—not 3.8 million, as commonly asserted. And overall, they add, the Jewish share of the population in Israel and the occupied territories has declined only slightly over the past forty years, from 64 percent in 1967 to just under 60 percent today. Pointing out that Palestinian birth rates are continuing to decline, the authors conclude that there's little reason to expect Jews to become a minority in the Israeli-controlled region—let alone within Israel proper—anytime soon.

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