Are Unmarried People Bad for the Economy?

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MARRIAGE OCTOBER 28, 2013

Are Unmarried People Bad for the Economy?

It's a Gallup poll that seems ripped from the deepest fantasies of conservatives: unmarried people are actually hurting the economy, and so more marriage might help the country's bottom line. 

Married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. ...

These results suggest that if more Americans are married, and fewer are single/never married, overall spending might increase. Similarly, if more Americans are in domestic partnerships and fewer are single, that too would appear to be related to higher spending.

But, as Gallup correctly points out, one reason that unmarried people are spending less is that they make less. Marriage, for a whole host of messy cultural and socioeconomic reasons, has become a luxury item in America — despite the fact that getting hitched (or simply moving in together) and splitting the cost of rent is one of the easiest ways to quickly acquire more spending money. That's why I don't think the real takeaway should neccessarily be that more cohabitation is the way to get Americans throwing around cash. Another way to get spending up is to get rent down, and in big, crowded cities like New York or D.C., that means developing and building more affordable housing options. It's certainly less scoldy and far more realistic than saying people ought to get hitched for the sake of the economy. 

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