(CBS Local) – A shortage of “economically attractive” men may be one reason for a steady decline in marriages in the United States, according to new research. Researchers at Cornell University analyzed opposite-sex couples, comparing the incomes of “potential” male spouses with those of men who married women of a similar demographic.

According to the study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, estimated potential “dream” husbands have an average income that is about 58 percent higher than the actual unmarried men that are currently available to unmarried women. They were also 30 percent more likely to be employed and 19 percent more likely to have a college degree.

“Most American women hope to marry but current shortages of marriageable men – with a stable job and good income – make this increasingly difficult, especially in the current gig economy of unstable low-paying service jobs,” said lead author Daniel T. Lichter, PhD, of Cornell University.

Racial and ethnic minorities, especially black women, face even more of a shortage of potential marital partners, according to the study’s findings.

Additionally, women on both the low end and high end of the socioeconomic spectrum face a harder time finding an economically compatible mate.

The marriage rate in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in at least 150 years, PBS recently reported.

“Marriage is still based on love, but it also is fundamentally an economic transaction,” said Lichter. “Many young men today have little to bring to the marriage bargain, especially as young women’s education levels on average now exceed their male suitors.”