In 2011 Pew Charitable Trusts published an interesting study showing just who is falling out of the middle class.
– Compared with married women, women who are divorced, widowed or separated are between 31 and 36 percentage points more likely to fall down the economic ladder. In turn, never-married women are 16 to 19 percentage points more likely to be downwardly mobile than married women.
– Men who are divorced, widowed or separated are 13 percentage points more likely to drop out of the middle class than are married men, and men who have never married are 6 to 10 percentage points more likely to fall than married men.
This is kind of a no-duh bit of information but it’s something I honestly never thought about before I got married. Before then I thought of marriage as beneficial emotionally and spiritually. Now I definitely see marriage as more of an exercise in successful team building with romance and affection as a pleasant bonus.
With my salary I would be somewhere in the lower half of the middle class. Combined with my wife’s salary we find ourselves comfortably in the upper half. That is huge. That jump equals much more opportunity for us and our children. That means greater likelihood that they themselves will also be successful (and hopefully marry someone successful thus pushing further up the ladder). Also, because of this cushion we have more disposable income to inject back into the economy. There are also all kinds of ancillary benefits like better health that create less drain on health services and less likelihood of us drawing on social services. Win-win for everyone.
The study goes on to mention limiting other factors that should be fairly obvious (drug use, lack of education, etc). Regardless, there certainly seems to be some real incentives for the government to promote marriage as a net positive for society. The best way to drive this is probably through what Ross Douthat has long described as a ‘family friendly tax policy’. This has probably been the biggest reason why I have warmed to the idea of gay marriage. It would be even more interesting to see of the economic benefits of marriage scale upwards when we introduce the notion of plural marriages. But of course, that is a post unto itself.