Thursday, May 24, 2007

Does Marriage Make You Richer?

Of course getting married won't make you rich in itself, but if you are married, and you grew up in a household with married parents, you're more likely to be in the upper end of the income spectrum. So says an article in The Economist, entitled "The frayed knot" in which the author argues that

"There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.

At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%."

So basically what they're saying is that lower-educated, poorer people are less likely to a) be products of two parent homes and b) create their own two-parent homes. This cycle continues with their own children.

I think the environment a person grows up in has a huge impact on how their life turns out. Rich or poor, loving families tend to create happy, well-adjusted children. These children probably go on to get better jobs and on average become more wealthy (emotionally and financially) than people who are products of broken homes.

I've written before about the gap between the rich and the poor, and this article speaks to some of the same issues. It's more food for thought than anything else, because I'm truly at a loss to suggest any good solutions to what seem to be some pretty big social problems.

No comments: