Reduce income inequality: get married!

We at the Rio Grande Foundation don’t believe in telling people how to live their lives. To this end, we tend to stay out of most social policy issues. But, sometimes statistics just scream for attention.

Take this recent story. According to the story:

“What’s the best way to improve your chances of finding someone to put a ring on it? Stay in school and get rich:

Fifty years ago, 72 percent of those who never went to college got married, which was just 4 percent less than rate for those who did. Today only 48 percent of those with a high school diploma or less get married, but for college graduates the rate is 64 percent.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earning of someone with a college degree is $1,140 — nearly double that of someone who only graduated from high school. (Also, 24.8 percent of Americans have college degrees today, that’s more than twice the number 50 years ago.) Not only does income increase the amount of marriage, marriage also increases the amount of income. Married people tend to earn more and also benefit from economies of scale — sharing the costs of housing and utilities for example.

So, what’s the takeaway? First and foremost, when those dreaded 99%ers start talking about inequality, they might want to look in the mirror first to better understand why income inequality may be growing. Also, perhaps if the poor and low income folks took the institution of marriage more seriously and stuck with it, they’d be better off economically. Lastly, marriage (like getting an education) requires commitment. It only makes sense that people who are more successful at one are also more successful at the other.

What can government do? A good start would be to reduce dependency on government programs that give people the incentive to rely on government rather than friends, family, and their spouses.

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