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August 10, 2007

Marriage and income inequities

The increasing level of income inequality in our country is an issue of constant debate, with explanations ranging from globalization to education differences to tax changes. And now, says N.C. State University economist Mike Walden, some are pointing to a marriage factor.

"The notion here is that, for most of us, we tend to marry people with similar educational characteristics as ourselves," says Dr. Walden, a professor of agricultural and resource economics. "For example, on average -- this is certainly not applied to everyone, but more so than not -- college graduates will marry other college graduates. And high school graduates will marry other high school graduates. And those who drop out of high school tend to marry those also who drop out of high school.

"It probably has something to do with interests and opportunities for meeting people -- of course that's beyond my area of expertise," he adds. "But when you take that into account and then you add the fact that education has been one of the biggest driving forces in creating more income inequality, you see where these marriage choices can actually compound that income inequality.

"Because here you have, for example, a household that has two college graduates. They are actually doing well in our economy. They are getting big pay raises," he elaborates. "You contrast them to perhaps a household where two high school dropouts have married, they are doing unfortunately poorly in this economy, and you can see where this really creates a great deal of income inequality."

Posted by deeshore at August 10, 2007 08:00 AM