How Marriage Affects the Economy

How Marriage Affects the Economy

How Marriage Affects the Economy

Research conducted by Gallup from January to September 2013 reveals that married Americans tend to have an above average income. This leads to more spending, which stimulates the economy.

In fact, married Americans spend more than those in any other marital status category across age groups. Americans who have never married spend significantly less, particularly those younger than 50. The study suggests that if marriage rates increase, overall spending in the United States may increase.

Interestingly, W. Bradford Wilcox, director of The National Marriage Project, has been studying the impact of marriage on financial stability.

Writing for The Atlantic Monthly, Wilcox states, “The Add Health dataset for the Home Economics Project, a new joint initiative between the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, indicates that adolescents raised in intact, married homes are significantly more likely to succeed educationally and financially.

"Young adults who were raised in a home by their married parents are 44 percent more likely to graduate from college. College graduates have better job prospects, tend to make more than minimum wage and are less likely to be unemployed. The benefits are greatest for less privileged homes, that is, where their mother did not have a college degree. Young people from less-privileged homes with married parents are more likely to graduate from college and earn about $4,000 more than their peers from non-intact families.”

Wilcox goes on to talk about the implications between adolescent family structure and family formation for young adults. Men and women who come from intact families are approximately 40 percent less likely to have a child out of wedlock. Why is this significant? Because research from numerous groups including Brookings Institution and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies indicates that unwed childbearing decreases your chances of marrying.

By following the success sequence - complete high school (at a minimum), work full time and marry before having children, a person's chances of being poor fall from 12 to 2 percent. And, their chances of joining the middle class or above rise from 56 to 74 percent. (Middle class has an income of at least $50,000 a year for a family of three).

This information is not new. Tons of research show the financial benefits of healthy marriage for adults and their children, including Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences to The Case for Marriage.

The influence married people have on the economy is new however. Married people have more expendable income. As a result, they are able to buy more, which positively impacts our country’s economy.

Despite a decrease in the U.S. marriage rate and people's apparent skepticism about the prospect of marriage, there is convincing evidence that marriage's financial benefits impact more than just the couple.

The Gallup research, along with other studies, indicates that no other living arrangement offers these benefits to the same degree as marriage. The ripple effect of healthy marriage affects the economy and so much more. Perhaps all of us would benefit from learning how to do marriage well.