Guest Post: The Economics Of Marriage

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded.  So why is this happening?  Well, the truth is that there are a lot of reasons why so many young people are choosing not to get married today.  One big reason is money.  Young adults in the U.S. are really struggling to find good jobs, and many are hesitant to take a big step like marriage without achieving a certain level of financial security first.  And as you will see below, many young adults (especially women) do not even want to date someone that is not employed.  In this harsh economic environment, money makes a big difference in the world of romance.  Another big reason for the decline of marriage in America is a seismic shift in cultural attitudes.  Americans (especially young people) do not place the same kind of importance on marriage and having children that they once did.  Instead, more Americans are choosing to "move in together" than ever before.  But if the percentage of Americans that choose to get married continues to decline, what is that going to mean for our future, and what is our country going to look like moving forward?

According to a startling new study conducted at Bowling Green University, the marriage rate in America has fallen precipitously over the past 100 years.

In 1920, there were 92.3 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women.  In 2012, there were only 31.1 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women.

That is not just a new all-time low, that is a colossal demographic earthquake.

That same study found that the marriage rate has fallen by an astounding 60 percent since 1970 alone.

As a result, U.S. households look far different today than they once did.

Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the U.S. contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

That is a very troubling sign if you consider the family to be one of the fundamental building blocks of society.

When young people are asked why they are delaying marriage today, one of the things that always seems to get brought up is money.  There is a feeling (especially among men) that you should achieve a certain level of financial security before making the big plunge.

And it is a fact that the more money you have, the more likely you are to be married.  Just check out the following stats about income and marriage from a recent Business Insider article...

83% of 30- to 50-year-old men in the top 10% of annual earnings are married today, whereas only 64% of median earners and half of those in the bottom 25th percentile are hitched.


Now, compare that to men in 1970, whose marriage rates were 95% (top earners), 91% (median earners), and 60% (bottom 25th percentile of earners), respectively.

A lot of people like to think that "love is the only thing that matters" when it comes to marriage, but the cold, hard numbers tell a different story.  In fact, one very shocking survey discovered that 75 percent of all American women would have a problem even dating an unemployed man...

Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they'd have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered "of course."


"Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don't already know," Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It's Just Lunch, said in a press release. "This is the rare area, compared to other topics we've done surveys on, where women's old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply."

Unfortunately for American men, there simply are not enough good jobs to go around.  In fact, the number of working age Americans without a job has increased by 27 million since the year 2000, and businesses in the U.S. are being destroyed faster than they are being created.

Due to a lack of economic opportunities, a rising percentage of our young people have been giving up on the "real world" and have been moving back in with Mom and Dad.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "29 Percent Of All U.S. Adults Under The Age Of 35 Are Living With Their Parents".  And when you break down the numbers, you find that young men are almost twice as likely to move back in with their parents as young women are.

But economic factors alone certainly do not account for the tremendous decline in the marriage rate that we have witnessed in this country.  Shifting cultural attitudes also play a huge role.

A whole host of opinion polls and surveys show that Americans simply do not value marriage and having children as much as they once did.  For example, the Pew Research Center has found that the younger you are, the more likely you are to believe that "marriage is becoming obsolete" and that "children don't need a mother and a father to grow up happily".

In fact, an astounding 44 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket now believe that "marriage is becoming obsolete".

And why should they get married?  Our movies and television shows constantly tell them that they can have the benefits of being married without ever having to make a lifelong commitment.

This sounds particularly good to men, since they can run around and have sex with lots of different women without ever having to "settle down".

But there are most definitely consequences for this behavior.  The "sexual revolution" has left behind countless broken hearts, shattered dreams, unintended pregnancies and devastated families.

In addition, the U.S. has become a world leader when it comes to sexually-transmitted disease.

It is hard to believe this number, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately one-third of the entire population of the United States (110 million people) currently has a sexually transmitted disease.

So nobody should claim that the "sexual revolution" has not had any consequences.

But most Americans don't actually run around and sleep with lots of different people at the same time.  Instead, most Americans seem to have adopted a form of "serial monogamy".

In America today, most people only sleep with one person at a time, and "living together" is being called "the new marriage".

According to the CDC, 74 percent of all 30-year-old women in the U.S. say that they have cohabitated with a romantic partner without being married to them, and it has been estimated that 65 percent of all couples that get married in the United States live together first.

Many believe that by "trying out" the other person first that it will give them a much better chance of making marriage work if they eventually do choose to go down that path.  Unfortunately, that does not seem to work out very well in practice.  In fact, the divorce rate for couples that live together first is significantly higher than for those that do not.

And when it comes to divorce, America is the king.

For years, the U.S. has had the highest divorce rate in the developed world.

But it wasn't always this way.  Back in 1920, less than one percent of all women in the United States were currently divorced or separated.  Today, approximately 15 percent of all women in the United States are currently divorced or separated.

So why are so many people getting divorced?

Of course there are a lot of factors involved (including money), but a big one is cheating.  According to one survey, 41 percent of all spouses admit to infidelity.  Many Americans simply find it very difficult to stay committed to one person for an extended period of time.

As a result of what I have discussed so far, it is easy to see why people in our society are so lonely and so isolated.  Less people are getting married, more divorces are happening and couples are having fewer children.  This means that our households are smaller and we have far fewer family connections than we once did.

100 years ago, 4.52 people were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

That is an astounding figure.

And the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire planet.

But we weren't meant to live alone.  We were meant to love and to be loved.

Often, those that are being hurt the most by our choices as a society are the children.  They need strong, stable homes to grow up in, and we are not providing that for millions upon millions of them.

When you look at just women under the age of 30 in the United States, more than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock.

That would have been unimaginable 100 years ago.

And of course when there is no marriage involved, a lot of times the guy does not stick around.  At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father, and in many impoverished areas of the country the rate is well over 50 percent.

In addition, women are waiting much longer to have children than they once did.

In 1970, the average woman had her first child when she was 21.4 years old.  Now the average woman has her first child when she is 25.6 years old.

The biggest reason for this, once again, is money...

In the United States, three-quarters of people surveyed by Gallup last year said the main reason couples weren't having more children was a lack of money or fear of the economy.


The trend emerges as a key gauge of future economic health — the growth in the pool of potential workers, ages 20-64 — is signaling trouble ahead. This labor pool had expanded for decades, thanks to the vast generation of baby boomers. Now the boomers are retiring, and there are barely enough new workers to replace them, let alone add to their numbers.

We are waiting longer to have children and having fewer of them, but those children are needed for the economic future of this country.

Fifteen years from now, one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65.  All of those elderly Americans are going to want the rest of us to keep the financial promises that were made to them.  But that is going to turn out to be quite impossible.  We simply do not have enough people.

In the end, the economics of marriage does not just affect those that are thinking of getting married or those that are already married.

The truth is that the economics of marriage affects all of us.

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Cacete de Ouro's picture

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

" And as you will see below, many young adults (especially women) do not even want to date someone that is not employed."

Doesn't seem to stop said "women" from having children though.  How many women have children before they are financially able to support them?  Too many.  One of the fastest tickets to a life of poverty and debt serfdom is having children before you can support them.  Kids are one of the most expensive toys a parent can buy.

Don't worry though, you can always get your resident politician to take from the financially responsible, and give the financially irresponsible, because its "for the kids".

mjcOH1's picture

"Doesn't seem to stop said "women" from having children though.  How many women have children before they are financially able to support them?  Too many. "


Is that not the state's job?

RafterManFMJ's picture

Men don't marry 'cause it's like playing Russian Roulette with your life and finances.

A losing proposition.

But enterprising women can help boost the marriage rate...

"One mother from Dallas did not want her identity revealed, but she does want people to buy her positive pregnancy tests. She talked about one woman who took her up on the offer.

“She wanted to trick him into thinking she was pregnant, so he would drop everything so I gave her two tests,” the woman said.

Buying and selling others’ pregnancy tests is the latest trend on the Internet. Those involved in the trade said the buyers’ motive is often to trap a man – and that is not all.

“Ninety-five percent of the girls just want to lie to get a man,” the seller said.

And the sellers know that.

One Craigslist ad posted last year by a Central New Jersey woman read: “I am pregnant and will sell you a positive pregnancy test. These will be taken right before you’re ready to pick them up. Wanna get your boyfriend to finally pop the question? Play a trick on mom, dad or one of your friends? I really don’t care what you use it for.”

economics9698's picture

The state created the problem by increasing AFDC (welfare) payments from the intentionally low rate of 80% of minimum wage in the 1950’s to 4X or more by 1970.

Home inspections of unwed mothers for a live in boyfriend was ruled unconstitutional in 1962.

The results is predicable, low income families have been destroyed in America creating a, surprise, need for more cops, judges, lawyers, jails, and all the necessities of our current police state that incarcerates 4x more prisoners than communist China.


Anything that helps the tribe make another buck.  The divorce rate of the top 20% of families is the same as in the 1950’s.

max2205's picture

Ring costs 5 years salary.....about 90k for 20 per hour McD worker




Overfed's picture

My wife wears a $300 plain Palladium band.

Headbanger's picture

I'm a little late to the party here.

My one bitter divorce (no kids though) in my 20's "cured" me of ever getting married again.

Now in my 60's I've been noticing so many 50, 60 something year old women who played the divorce game years ago who are now bitter, miserable, alone old bags who's kids have gone and will never have a man now in their old haggy age.

Tough shit.

Telemakhos's picture

Assuming that the population of married people with rings is a normally distributed curve, how many sigmas off the mean do you think a 90k ring is?  The Grey Lady reports that the mean is down from over 5k in 2006 to 4k in 2012; elsewhere, it's reported that only 12% of the population spent over 8k, so there's one sigma for you.  A 90k ring must be quite a few deviations off the mean.


StandardDeviant's picture

Um, I think he's not actually talking about a $90k ring.  It's synecdoche: the ring as a symbol for the marriage in its entirety.

RafterManFMJ's picture

I'll pimp 3 books I liked and would recommend to any male starting to find his way in the world and / or undecided about marriage:

Bachelor Pad Economics
Taken Into Custody

If he's smarter than average, add

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by
Matt Ridley

Kobe Beef's picture

If he's got an internet connection, start here..

Stuck on Zero's picture

Yes. The problem stemmed from the state outbidding all the males who earn less then $75K per year.  Why would a woman put up with a man if she can get supported from the state? 

Free money = poison.


Monty Burns's picture

Why would a woman put up with a man if she can get supported from the state?


Why indeed.  This is the culmination of a systematic Frankfurt School-inspired war on the traditional family. In any event the gender balance of power has rendered marriage a potential economic disaster for the average male.  So neither men nor women are really incentivized to marry any more.  Job done!

CH1's picture

I know a couple who refuse to be officially married because they don't want the state to get its fingers into their lives.

yogibear's picture

Woman clean house financially when they get a good earner. They take the house, whatever savings you have and try and take your custody away when divorcing.

SilverRhino's picture

Married twice, divorced twice.  Realized marriage was a bad bet / investment a couple years ago.   

Antifaschistische's picture

don't forget the economics of divorce where men are also more likely to get raped..

Chuck Walla's picture

The anti-family is the fundamental building block of the totalitarian state. Marx and Lenin didn't like stable families, too bourgeois.

A century of failure means nothing!

Kobe Beef's picture

Freud, The Frankfurt School, and the feminists didn't like families either. They were very influential in Boomer "education".

It turns out Free Love ain't so free after all. It will cost you your families, your childrens' futures, and ultimately, your civilization.

Metalredneck's picture

Precisely.  "Dating" a meth dealer and excreting his spawn so the government can suppoert them are different things.

Alpha Fux, Beta Bux.

JuliaS's picture

I think there's a Chinese saying that goes: If you want to start a revolution, give man a gun. If you want to stop a revolution, give the man a wife.

I think the government is much more interested in the family institution than the people themselves. Ponzi requires a flood of fresh participants. Without people getting married and having kids to take on the tax burdens of past generations many things are going to start falling apart.

FredFlintstone's picture

He who run in front of car get tired. He who run behind car get exhausted. So sorry.

NoDebt's picture

"But we weren't meant to live alone.  We were meant to love and to be loved."

Tell that to my wife.  Mean as a snake.

Yes_Questions's picture



but I'm sure you're a good guy.


So, just, put down the nail gun.  Its gonna be fine..

Occams_Chainsaw's picture

+1 for the nail gun reference.....

NoDebt's picture

Current future ex-wife.  Actually she's fine.  Fine.  Every morning I wake up and do the Sam Kinnison "Still love ya, honey!" routine on her.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

As someone I knew used to say, "Kid, our last future ex-wives haven't even been born yet!"

I need Another Beer's picture

Ironically, they mostly voted for the POS Obama. Good luck with that

sschu's picture

Saw the documentary Irreplaceable last night.

It was sobering.  Fathers and men, get it together.  

Whatever your politics or world view, the destruction/marginalization of the family is very bad for all of us.  


daveO's picture

I haven't seen it, but I can tell everyone here why many men will have nothing to do with marriage. It's because of NO FAULT DIVORCE. 66% of divorces are initiated by women. This article was right about money, but only superficially. Men absolutely don't want to marry what amounts to a 'State Sponsored Prostitute'. Then there's child support payments, if they have a kid. On top of that, the MSM constantly tells us how all of women's problems are caused by a man somewhere. This helps contribute to the high divorce rate. I find it interesting that this article used 1970 for comparison, but didn't mention that was the first year of no fault's in California. In '70, only 4.8% of men over 40 were never married. Now, it's 20%. I'm one of them. I have 2 other men in my family, of my generation and single, who feel the same way. We've seen the carnage up close, and want no part of it! I honestly don't know why 80% of men are still willing to risk it. If you don't want to ever have anything to call your own, get married. If you want to be cleaned out and potentially be put in jail, get married.

The family has been marginalized by the gov. via no faults and welfare payments, not irresponsible men. The men are the only ones acting rationally(not nearly enough of them, IMO), in response to a predatory gov.


UselessEater's picture

A guy I know complains all the time about child support payments (he's right they are very high) but then again he has 3 kids by 3 women spread 19 years, married only once but is now onto the next woman.

Perhaps he should have learned to keep it in his pants - but no, instead he is very clued onto how he and his 3 exes can use the single parent benefit system (tax payer funded) while he earns a good dollar in his mining job.

When I worked with him it was pretty annoying knowing where my tax dollars went. Even more annoying was his arrangement with his ex-wife who gave him one of her houses (her savings, he had none) to be left to their kid, and their arrangement was designed to split her assets so she could get benefit payments as a single parent.

Cretins, the lot of them, their attitude is to game the system because "everyone else is".

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Remember Dave Foley, of "News Radio" fame? Funny show. Wonder why you haven't seen him in anything since? His psycho bitch ex-wife cleaned him out and almost put him in jail. If he steps foot in Canada again, he goes straight to the clink.

Here he is telling his story in his own words. God help you if you are a married man in Canada.

UselessEater's picture

The mentality and anger can get really insane. I tired talking one of our best tradesmen out of quitting, promised to find away to cut his hours i.e. income; but no - he was going to go on the dole to avoid paying child support that he felt would fund his ex wifes lifestyle.

So tax payers lost out twice over and the kids were pawns of 2 equally stupid adults. Worst of all, the kids lost a healthy positive Dad, most men don't thrive on doing nothing, often times, its a quick road to old age. Stupid waste of quality life by all and not a great example for the now adult kids. Bet they cream the system with both parents role modelling how to.

chubbar's picture

From a guy getting ready to meet his maker (with regard to divorce settlement), believe me, this is real. I came into it with a 7 figure net worth and the first thing I did was to pay off her CC and buy her a car. She didn't work, did whatever she wanted, spent whatever she wanted, we traveled whenever and wherever she wanted then had a kid that we both stayed at home and raised. 13 years later, I get an email an hour after she leaves to bring child to school, she doesn't come back. Now, she wants half of everything she did nothing to earn, and guess what? The gov't agrees with her!

My advice to any guy out there, fuck them but don't marry them. NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY OR PROMISE! It's all bullshit because the laws don't hold them accountable for any of their actions! You are NOTHING but a meal ticket to her and the gov't.

Guys have absolutely no one in gov't that advocates for fairness in divorce settlements. The gov't does NOT want these women back on the "dole" so takes all that they can from you to ensure these deadbeats don't ever show up on their door step. Instead of my ex thanking me for taking care of her for 13 years in a way that she could never have afforded,  I'm getting shit on for not being totally receptive to taking care of her for the next 40 years in the same lifestyle she enjoyed while being married. Unfucking real the entitlement. All I can really say is that you guys (collectively) CAN NOT marry someone under these draconian marriage/divorce laws!!!!! Don't do it! Your life's work will be wiped out and given away by the state!

Shack up, fool around, have a baby out of wedlock, do whatever you want but under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you say "I DO" unless you have absolutely NOTHING that she and the gov't can take from you. Starve the system!

NuckingFuts's picture

Yep, a friend pays out 12K a month for alimony plus child support for 2 kids, one of which is not his. She had the child before they married and he adopted her because he is a standup guy and thought it was the right thing to do. She was cheating on him and still gets all this. Working was not a part of her lifestyle said the court. Now she is shacked up with a black dude and will never remarry because she would loose the 144K per year he has to give her. FUCKED UP! Luckily my ex was as dumb as she was hot and I escaped with phyz she never even knew existed.... Another good reason to own metals, just don't tell.

j-dub's picture

Women are parasites pretending to be symbiotes.

The hosts, however, are begining to wake up

NoDebt's picture

"Often, those that are being hurt the most by our choices as a society are the children.  They need strong, stable homes to grow up in, and we are not providing that for millions upon millions of them."

That's what big brother is for.  What, you think this is just happening all on it's own, without a plan?

My God, LBJ SAID WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO.  And damned if it hasn't happened.  Wake up, pay attention.  There is no mystery here.  This is by design, and one that's been known for a long time.  Tinfoil hat not required for this one.

Monty Burns's picture

This is by design, and one that's been known for a long time.


Absolutely. Check out the Frankfurt School's sedition or Gramsci's Long March Through The Institions.   "By perverting the institutions of a nation and bringing about a general degradation a population can easily be brought to heel. (Lavreni Beria, former head of the KGB.)

buzzsaw99's picture

All of those elderly Americans are going to want the rest of us to keep the financial promises that were made to them...

Pre-dick-tion: Fifteen years from now you'll be sucking my 66 year old dick for a quarter.

Pareto's picture

you never cease to enlighten AND entertain.  +1 for the laugh.

chinoslims's picture

Who needs a husband when you have welfare!

 It's Free Swipe Yo EBT!

The state has replaced husbands.  Free healthcare.  Free food.  The state redistributes wealth so that females don't have to feel be responsible for sexual promiscuity.  Women are too big to fail along with the banks.
navy62802's picture

"Marriage *TM" is just the state sanctioning of a romantic union between two people. And let's be honest, that's exactly what we're talking about here. Two people can be just as "married" if they take private vows to each other. "Marriage *TM" is just another way to psychologically manipulate people into buying into the State. That's all it is.

NOTaREALmerican's picture

And buying a diamond,  which are forever!

UselessEater's picture

Prior to the 20th century, engagement rings were strictly luxury items, and they rarely contained diamonds. But in 1939, the De Beers diamond company changed all of that when it hired ad agency N.W. Ayer & Son. The industry had taken a nosedive in the 1870s, after massive diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa. But the ad agency came to the rescue by introducing the diamond engagement ring and quietly spreading the trend through fashion magazines. The rings didn't become de rigueur for marriage proposals until 1948, when the company launched the crafty "A Diamond is Forever" campaign. By sentimentalizing the gems, De Beers ensured that people wouldn't resell them, allowing the company to retain control of the market. In 1999, De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer confessed, "Diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill."

In addition to diamond engagement rings, De Beers also promoted surprise proposals. The company learned that when women were involved in the selection process, they picked cheaper rings. By encouraging surprise proposals, De Beers shifted the purchasing power to men, the less-cautious spenders.

daveO's picture

Ever since no fault divorces were started, marriage has become a state sponsored shakedown of men. Don't be stupid enough to enter into a contract that could be broken at any time, on a whim. It's no longer a valid contract. It's closer to 'State Sponsored Prostitution'. Bring back real prostitution, it's far more honest and cheaper.

chubbar's picture

Well said, see my comment above. The state is only interested in the invariable shakedown. Plus, it spreads the wealth in a way no other state program can accomplish.