Being an unmarried Millennial, I’ve had many conversations with friends and family about why record high numbers of Millennials are not getting married (and particularly, why I’m not married yet). It is a noticeable and remarkable shift in American life. According to Pew Research, today’s average age at first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960.

Speaking from personal experience, young married couples today are regarded as cultural oddities, and even more so if they have children. I would argue that most Millennials think of marriage as a burden and an outdated, unnecessary institution. Being products of a generation riddled by divorce, one can’t help but sympathize with their gut reactions against marriage. If roughly half of all married people get divorced, then what’s the point of getting married anyways? Furthermore, many TV shows and movies reinforce the notion that marriage is a tedious, boring killjoy.

Yet, when it comes to comparing marriage to singleness the social data is clear, for men in particular: married men work harder, longer, and earn more money.

Brad Wilcox has a terrific new column for the Washington Post explaining this data titled “Don’t be a bachelor: Why married men work harder, smarter and make more money.”

He sets the stage with the reality of marriage today: “A record share of Americans are postponing or foregoing marriage, and a growing share of young adults think marriage is obsolete or comparatively unimportant.”

However, he then goes on to explain the social and economic disparity between unmarried and married men:

“Our research, featured in a recent report, “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America,” indicates that men who are married work about 400 hours more per year  than their single peers with equivalent backgrounds. They also work more strategically: one Harvard study found that married men were much less likely than their single peers to quit their current job unless they had lined up another job.

This translates into a substantial marriage premium for men. On average, young married men, aged 28-30, make $15,900 more than their single peers, and married men aged 44-46 make $18,800 more than their single peers.”

Given this data, one must ask why there is such a dramatic difference between the earnings and attitudes of married men versus unmarried men?

As Wilcox goes on to explain, married men have different and better attitudes toward work and responsibility. Once married, a man takes on more responsibility and feels more responsible for the wellbeing of his wife and children. This has a profound impact on a man’s lifestyle choices.

The great irony here is that as fewer and fewer Millennials get married we learn more and more about the incredible economic benefits of marriage. All the more reason to make sure the Millennials you know read this piece by Brad Wilcox.



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