When you think about marriage, the images that spring to mind are usually brides in white, churches, rings, house and two children, and the like. But one aspect of marriage is often overlooked and was brought to my attention the other day.
I was reading a document about the economic benefits of marriage, part of "The state of our unions 2006", a report published by the National Marriage Project, based at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The aim of this report, released every year, is to educate people on the social, economic and cultural conditions affecting marital success and wellbeing in America. It is a great read, and full of lots of really great information about what is going on inside our families and marriages.
So in looking at marriages, we often overlook what wonderful wealth-generating institutions they really are. Married couples create more economic assets over a lifetime than single people or cohabiting couples. So why is that?
The first reason is that marriage provides economies of scale in the fact that it is cheaper for two to live together than it is separately. The second reason is that as a couple, each person can specialize in certain areas and in doing so increase efficiency.
Married couples on average save and invest more in their future to secure a stable lifestyle, and married men tend to earn between 10 and 40 percent more than their single counterparts.
In addition to this, married couples qualify for more government and workplace assistance in the form of maternity leave, subsidies, and tax relief as an incentive to build families and do their bit for population growth.
So if marriages are such wealth-creating units, what happens if couples divorce?
Things go downhill economically if a couple decides to end the marriage and divorce, and research has shown that divorce can increase child poverty which significantly increases the cost to society in the form of health and welfare programs and initiatives.
A lot of the information here may seem logical once you consider it, but the actual reading of the impact of marriage and divorce and its associated social benefits and costs makes for very interesting reading. The economics of it may not be interesting for some, but it is a worthwhile incentive in doing all you can to save marriages and decrease the risk of divorce.
The cost to you financially both in the immediate and long-term may come as a surprise. Equally, it may cause both of you to reconsider divorce and re-evaluate the worth of maintaining and saving your marriage.
It is one of many important factors to consider.