This is an excellent description of why marriage is so important to society. With the average age of marriage for young American men going from 23 to 29, poverty and fatherlessness are becoming more prevalent. Brad Wilcox explains why getting married is such a positive step for young men, the women they marry, and the children that result.
Here’s a partial transcript:
All this translates into a substantial marriage premium. On average, married men earn almost 20% more than their single peers. That’s even after controlling for differences in education, race, ethnicity, and other background factors. You can read more about this in my study “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.”
Why is there such a substantial marriage premium? There are at least four important reasons.
One: After marrying, men assume a new identity. Marriage is one of the last “rite[s] of passage into manhood” remaining in our society, argues sociologist Steven Nock. He found that marriage engenders an ethic of responsibility among men, as well as a newfound sense of meaning and status in the world.
Two: Married men are motivated to maximize their income. This means having a different attitude toward their job. They work more hours, and make better work choices. Studies find that men increase their work hours after marrying and reduce their hours after divorcing. Sociologist Elizabeth Gorman concludes that married men are more likely to value higher-paying jobs than their single peers.
Three: There is evidence that employers prefer and promote men who are married. Married men are often seen as more responsible and dedicated workers and are rewarded with more opportunities to advance.
Fourth and finally, married men benefit from the advice and encouragement of their wives, who have an obvious interest in their success. There is no better motivator than your spouse.
The tragedy is that despite all the good news we keep learning about the benefits of marriage, the institution is in retreat. In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married. Today, it’s 49%. In 1960, the average age at which men married was 23. Today it’s 29. The consequences of this are negative across the income spectrum, but they are especially so for those in the lower and middle classes.