A Shortage of Eligible Black Men


In an op-ed at the New York Times, Stanford law professor and author Ralph Richard Banks weighs in on the shortage of eligible black men for single African-American women. The author of Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone highlights the usual suspects: unemployment, incarceration and lack of education.


More than 1 in 10 black men in their 20s or early 30s are currently incarcerated, and some experts estimate that as many as 1 in 4 black men will spend some time behind bars.

Only half of black boys graduate high school.

Some ex-convicts or high school dropouts find good jobs, but most do not. Black men without a college education, like less educated men of all races, confront an employment landscape in which the well-paying, labor intensive jobs on which earlier generations of men relied have either been eliminated by technology or moved overseas.

Black men’s difficulties arise partly for reasons beyond their control — failing schools, a changing labor market, mass incarceration — but they nonetheless leave black men less able to fulfill the role of husband.

The harsh truth is that as black women have moved ahead, black men have fallen behind. Each year, nearly twice as many black women as men graduate college. Black women have surpassed their male counterparts even in lucrative and typically male-dominated fields like computer science. Twice as many black women as men go to graduate school, and in law and medicine, the gender gap is approaching 2 to 1 as well.

Read Ralph Richard Banks' entire op-ed at the New York Times.