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Miss America Contestants Aren’t Worried About Man Shortage

September 8, 1986

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Miss America contestants, who frequently list a happy marriage and children among their goals, aren’t worried about studies that show college-educated women have slim chances of getting married after age 30.

″I’ve read those polls and I just go, ’pooh,‴ said Miss Kansas Heather Lynn Clark, 23, of Benton.

″The person who doesn’t get married has chosen not to,″ said Miss South Carolina Dawn Elizabeth Smith, 22, of Columbia. ″It’s just putting people in a statistic. I’m not worried about it.″

Miss Oklahoma Mignon Merchant of Edmond said she hopes the rumored man shortage for mature women isn’t true.

But, she added, ″I hadn’t really thought: ’Oh, my gosh. I’m 25. I’d better start looking.‴

Miss Delaware Lori Ann Scott, 23, of Wilmington, said she has ″living proof″ that such studies are groundless because her great-aunt married for the first time when she was in her late 50s or early 60s. Her groom was a first-timer, too, Miss Scott said.

″When you meet the right man, you’ll know it. There’s no need to rush ... So what if you never get married?″ she said.

Earlier this year, a study by two Yale University sociologists and a Harvard University economist found that white, college-educated women who reach age 30 without marrying only have a 20 percent chance of ever tying the knot, and the odds get worse as they grow older.

Black women in the same situation have only an 8 percent chance of marrying after age 30, according to the study based on a U.S. Census Bureau survey of 70,000 households.

Other studies publicized since then have said there is no shortage of men for over-30 women, but females are handicapped by the male practice of dating and mating with women much younger than them.

Some have said the studies suggest that women who stay single to establish themselves in their careers may wind up high and dry for a mate at the end of their child-bearing years.

″Having a man isn’t everything,″ said Miss Pennsylvania Darlene Deeley, 25, of Philadelphia. If a woman doesn’t marry, she has to figure ″maybe there’s something else special out there for you,″ Miss Deeley said.

Miss North Carolina Karen Sue Bloomquist, 22, of Durham, found some comfort in the studies. If women carefully choose their marriage partners, there will be fewer divorces, she said.

Miss Illinois Lisa Ann Heussner, 21, of Pekin, said she doesn’t think the so-called man shortage should become a national obsession. And, she added, it isn’t important to her.

″I’m engaged, so I’m not really concerned about that,″ said Miss Heussner, an actress who plans to be married in Europe after her year as Miss Illinois - or Miss America - is over.

Preliminary competition in the Miss America Pageant begins Wednesday. The finals, when Miss America 1986 Susan Akin crowns her successor, will be broadcast on NBC at 10 p.m. EDT Saturday.

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