Marriage and Macroeconomics

I was pleased to read this article since DH and I were married almost exactly 30 years ago, in March 1993. (We lived together for 5 years before marriage.) I still love him like a teenager. Although we didn’t have children, I can attest that his help was crucial to my well being during my heath problems, including driving me to Seattle 21 times for my breast cancer treatments.

For Long-Term Health and Happiness, Marriage Still Matters

A new study shows that for women, getting married is linked to significantly better physical and mental health

By Brendan Case and Ying Chen, The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2023

A new study in the journal Global Epidemiology … examined 11,830 American nurses, all women, who were initially never married, and compared those who got married between 1989 and 1993 with those who remained unmarried. We assessed how their lives turned out on a wide range of important outcomes—including psychological well-being, health and longevity—after about 25 years.

In most cases, we were able to control for the nurses’ well-being and health in 1989, before any of them had gotten married, as well as for a host of other relevant factors, such as age, race and socioeconomic status. …

The women who got married in the initial time frame, including those who subsequently divorced, had a 35% lower risk of death for any reason over the follow-up period than those who did not marry in that period. Compared to those who didn’t marry, the married women also had lower risk of cardiovascular disease, less depression and loneliness, were happier and more optimistic, and had a greater sense of purpose and hope.

We also examined the effects of staying married versus becoming divorced. Among those who were already married at the start of the study, divorce was associated with consistently worse subsequent health and well-being, including greater loneliness and depression, and lower levels of social integration. There was also somewhat less robust evidence that women who divorced had a 19% higher risk of death for any reason over the 25 years of follow-up than those who stayed married. …

Prior research indicates that marriage promotes men’s longevity and health even more strongly than women’s…

In 2021, for instance, the annual marriage rate reached an all-time low of 28 marriages per 1000 unmarried people, down from 76.5 in 1965, a trend driven both by rapid increases in cohabitation and by even steeper rises in individuals living alone. So too, the U.S. leads the world in the percentage of its children growing up in single-parent homes (23% in 2019, compared to, for example, 12% in Germany). All of these trends are concentrated among poor Americans and people of color, who arguably have the most to gain from the safety net offered by marriage. …[end quote]

Marriage has a dramatic Macroeconomic impact in enhancing the financial well-being of a stable family unit. Spouses can support each other financially and in services when one or the other runs into a setback.

Trends in marriage exacerbate income inequality by improving the financial status of those who already are better-off and undermining the financial status of those who are worse-off.

Previous studies show that:
Highly-educated people are increasingly marrying other highly-educated people.

Highly-educated people have lower divorce rates than lower-educated people.

Divorced women have a dramatic decrease in household income compared with married women. (Obviously because thay are losing their husband’s income.)

Children raised in single-parent households have worse outcomes on many measures.

Lack of affordable child care forces many mothers to stay home. Single moms would be driven into extreme poverty while married moms have a husband to support the family.

Trends in marriage are undermining the Macroeconomic foundations of the U.S. as generational trends lead to lower marriages.



Article #1) Is it marriage? the piece of paper? Or would this have more to do with having, as it says in The Bible" " a help mate"? I suspect it’s the later. doubt bad marriages are as good as good marriages. It’s like a lot of things. They are always beneficial in every situation wherein they are beneficial. Otherwise they are not beneficial. I suspect this is just another data point in the history of statistical voodoo.

Article #2) I cannot read either of these articles in totality so I am sure I am missing a bit along the way, but… whenever I see stories like this I always ask: If people only have “X amount” to pay for childcare then why is the price of childcare too high? I hear this all the time vis a vis housing. Houses are out of reach. Rents are too high. There’s a crying need in this community for “affordable housing.” If people only have so much to spend how can anything be unaffordable? You can only sell things to people for what they can afford. Where’s the supply/demand mechanism? Conversely, if it is acknowledged that housing or, in this case, child care, require X amount of bucks, then why isn’t every job paying enough to cover that? And no, don’t blame the government. That just tells me what’s they’re really up too.


Congratulations, Wendy. 45 years coming up for us (plus a couple more of “co-habiting” prior to that) I think I’ll keep him.

I seriously doubt that our finances would be in the state they are without his input (the $$$bucks, not his idea of financial management) Although, I didn’t give up my career when the nipper came along, motherhood placed an inevitable ceiling on my earning capacity…not least because a young mum was usually last on anyone’s list of a potential new hire in the days before I started my practice.

He’s my best buddy alright


When I was working on my MBA in the early 1980s, I did a study on what it would cost to run a day care center. After considerable research, I calculated that a day care center with about 25 kids would cost over $3,000 per child per year. This was the cost of the building rental, paying the staff, the food for the kids, etc.

Since the CPI shows that overall prices have tripled since then, that would be about $9,000 per child per year. That’s the right ballpark since the average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,896 per year ($991 a month) for infants and $10,158 ($847 a month) for toddlers.

Median weekly earnings $971 for women compute to roughly $50,000 per year from which taxes are taken.

It makes no sense to ask, “If people only have “X amount” to pay for childcare then why is the price of childcare too high?” These are two separate factors. Child care costs what it costs — because that is what it costs to provide child care. Incomes, as always, are based on the labor market and have nothing to do with any other goods and services.

The same is true of housing, which has its own separate issues of cost of building, expenses, supply and demand.

People can’t afford what they want because they don’t earn enough to pay for it.

You asked, " Conversely, if it is acknowledged that housing or, in this case, child care, require X amount of bucks, then why isn’t every job paying enough to cover that?"

As a METAR, I hope that you will study (if you don’t already know) the factors that determine pay in the free market for labor. As before, there is no connection between what “every” job is paying and the scarce (expensive) goods and services, such as child care and housing, that have their own prices determined by real costs, supply and demand.


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I am familiar with everything you mentioned. So, day care/child care is simply not an issue. People want it but like a butler and a jet, you can’t afford it, so shut up and move on. Why are people always whining over these things? At least whining without wanting to change anything? They don’t need it/can’t have it and the system, the economy, doesn’t need it either or will simply have to suffer the consequences of not making it available. With prices like the ones you mentioned I am surprised we ever hear about child care and working women. Normal people cannot get anywhere near these kinds of expenses and those who can, well, they can always afford it.

Housing, as you say, has it’s own issues and I don’t want a dragged out back-and-forth. I would consider it off topic at this point.


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Actually, it is currently a huge issue–due to the labor shortage. That is what it takes to get employers to pay more–because there is no way they can get more skilled workers unless they are able to “free up” the potential workers who are unable to work due to being required to take care of children. Hence, it becomes an issue employers can use to entice workers to work for them: In-house childcare. Cost? Less than the revenue to be realized by having more productive workers. Plus, the cost can be written off as a business expense (which it is).

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I see no tsunami to this effect going on out there. Maybe among the 6-figure ladder-climbing, careerist crowd. Sure, they’ll get these treatums but I’m not sure that’s where the real worker shortage is. From everything I’ve been hearing the shortage is among the broom and french fry et al demographic. They, by and large, don’t have kids due to being too young still or, let’s face it, they will not get a $9,000-a-year benefit as a “recruitment & retention” offering no matter what they do.

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Those jobs are being automated or being filled by migrants (if that mess gets fixed)–so any shortage there is temporary.

Rather, there is a real shortage in a variety of skilled trades AND jobs that require significant education AND training (think medical and related R&D) as shortages exist now and there is no real plan by business to fill them (except relying on–govt).

The incomes and asset bases for the bottom 80% have fallen off a cliff. The whinging is realistic.

Congrats on 30 years!

Ms Wolf and I are on our 45th year.

Fact: Married men tend to live longer than single men.

So guys, if you want a long, slow death, get married!

All kidding aside, best thing that ever happened to me.


People in bad marriages tend to wind up not being married.

Overseas applicant often get the jobs in sciences as well. I worked with many of them as a research chemist.

Back to cost of child care, I will say that was part of the motivation towards leaving my career and becoming a SAHM. Between taxes and child care, there was little monetary incentive for working, particularly since I would still get the SS spousal benefit. We did much better financially by my using my “free” time to learn how to invest what I saved by stretching DH’s paycheck to only pay for what I could not do myself.

Besides that, being out of town one week every month made it very difficult to breast feed. I was one of the original WFH employees though. Work had a computer system that I could log into from home, where I could enter instructions for the technicians to run in the lab and get data to analyze and number crunch. Reports were emailed in. Did that for 3 months, occasionally going in to work for in person meetings while DH took a day off to watch the baby. Supervisor loved it since he could push much of the regulatory grunt work off on me, giving him more time for product development, but our boss put the kabosh on it, not wanting to set long term precedent. That company always did lack vision!


It’s 30 years for us this year too. Am fortunate that in our case the sum of the parts is definitely greater than the two individuals. We are so different in key areas and in the process of making a decision together results in a much better decision than either of us would have made without input from the other. Our risk tolerances are polar opposites, blending towards a happy medium-moderate.

Happily the one area where we are both alike is being frugal. Differences in handling money is not a plus in seeking a mate.



The steppingstones (in order)

  1. Graduate
  2. Get a job
  3. Marry



One of my regular customers at my RS commented one day that, since his divorce, he was constantly amazed at how much discretionary money he had.

I’ll put the “study” down as another in the long line of propaganda pushing people to conform to the church and state approved lifestyle.



Any children from the union? What age was this guy…old enough to have had a major medical issue that the memsah’b stepped in to defray the costs of taking care of him? Did he further his career with frequent moves that required the missus to resign yet another promising gig?

If dh got a hankering for a younger model, I do believe I’d still be able to take him to the cleaners. 30 years ago, he would’ve been a pauper!

I don’t recall what Terry’s age was at the time, mid 1980s. He looked 40+ish, so, if he had spawn, they were probably grown and gone. He never said anything about kids and never had one in tow at the store. He was a skilled tradesman, welding jig set-up. There were plenty of opportunities in Grand Rapids for that skill set. I don’t know if Lescoa was union. That company later was bought out by American Bumper, which became Meridian, which then sold it’s bumper business to Flex-N-Gate, which is union.

A female coworker of mine, in the early 2000s, was terrible about eavesdropping on other people’s conversations, and butting in. One day, when her daughter was engaged, I was talking with someone else and said “I figured out, long ago, that I would not touch anyone without a pre-nup”. Deb’s voice came bellowing over the panel “I told my daughter if he ever says anything about a pre-nup, leave him!”, so, clearly, to Deb, the most important thing about a man was being able to take his money. After several years of her attitude, she butted in to a conversation I was having with someone else, I turned and said “WHO ASKED YOU?”. You should have seen the look on her face.

Anther coworker, in the early 90s, ruefully commented one day that he had paid for his house entirely by himself, then had to pay for half of it again.

When my cousin’s wife divorced him, she had ambitions of getting rid of Jon, and keeping the house, plus child support, plus alimony. One fly in her great plan: the house was not in Jon’s name. It was in my uncle’s name, because he had paid for it.



I can’t speak for “Deb,” but I don’t draw the same conclusion as you. I wouldn’t go into a marriage with someone who was already planning for it to fail. A pre-nup demonstrates planning to fail.


Remember what they taught us in B-School? “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Deb got married a few years later. I never heard Deb say anything nice about the guy. All she did was complain about him. One day, she said she had given him an ultimatum, either marry her, or stop asking to see her. He married her. A year later, Deb stopped by the office. Thing is, her husband’s home was in Florida. What was Deb doing in Michigan? She had spent the entire summer with her mother, not her new husband. One visible thing had changed in her life. Her 10 year old, low trim, Civic, had been replaced by a new Grand Cherokee. I had visions of her new husband, sitting in his house in Florida, alone, and thinking “I keep telling myself I’m married, but the only evidence of that I see is how fast money vanishes from my bank account”.