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Feb 14

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Marriage’s impact on poverty

On this Valentine’s Day, I note a November 2010 report by the Pew Research Center that analyzed data from the U.S. Census bureau.  The report concludes:

A new “marriage gap” in the United States is increasingly aligned with a growing income gap.  Marriage, while declining among all groups, remains the norm for adults with a college education and good income but is now markedly less prevalent among those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. … About half (52%) of all adults in this country were married in 2008; back in 1960, seven-in-ten (72%) were. This decline has occurred along class lines. In 2008, there was a 16 percentage point gap in marriage rates between college graduates (64%) and those with a high school diploma or less (48%). In 1960, this gap had been just four percentage points (76% vs. 72%).

 The economic impact obviously impacts children as well.  The report states:

About half (52%) of all adults in this country were married in 2008; back in 1960, seven-in-ten (72%) were. This decline has occurred along class lines. In 2008, there was a 16 percentage point gap in marriage rates between college graduates (64%) and those with a high school diploma or less (48%). In 1960, this gap had been just four percentage points (76% vs. 72%).

 In statistics, determining correlation is much different than determining cause & effect.  But, the cause & effect of marriages on economic well being, and the related results of the Pew study are explainable.  Consider:

  1. Those in steady marriages receive emotional support that provides an environment that helps economic success.
  2. Children of married couples benefit from the additional adult supervision and care.
  3. The costs of sharing a household are shared over a larger group.

It is not surprising then that those in marriages have higher average income, and a greater chance of owning their home.  Children in homes of married couples have higher average academic scores. Perhaps this should impact public policy decisions, which is currently not the case. 

So, there are good economic reasons for celebrating this day.  Investing in the relationship bears economic as well as emotional dividends.

About the author

David Nolte

I am a founding principal of Fulcrum Inquiry, an accounting and economic consulting firm that performs damage analysis for commercial litigation, forensic accountings, financial investigations, and business valuations. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA), as well as having other professional credentials. I regularly serve as an expert witness involving damages measurement. My litigation-oriented resume is on Fulcrum's website.

Permanent link to this article: http://betweenthenumbers.net/2011/02/marriage%e2%80%99s-impact-on-poverty/

1 comment

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