Marriage and income

Date posted: June 23, 2014

Finding a life mate is both exciting and fun, but also sometimes difficult, says host Mary Walden. “Has anything changed economically speaking in the search for a soul mate?” she asks her husband, NC State economist Mike Walden.

Mike Walden: “If you look over the last say three decades we do see a big change and it’s happened particularly as more women have moved into the paid labor force. What we’re finding is that people of the same educational levels are tending to marry each other much more so than the past. So, what you’re seeing happening is two high school dropouts marry, two high school graduates marry or two college graduates marry. And it makes sense. They probably have much more in common based on their educational level. But what this has done, however, has been a big, big factor in the increase in income inequality. Because the fact is that people with college educations have seen their incomes rise much faster over the last three decades than people with either a high school education or high school dropouts. And so the fact that now, for example, you’re putting two college grads together and looking at their combined income, it’s going to be much, much, much higher than it was in the past, compared to putting two high school dropout folks together. So, who someone marries and the educational level of that person and their income-earning potential has had a big impact on income in equality.”

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