The marriage gap describes observed economic and political disparities between those who are married and those who are single. The marriage gap is often compared with the gender gap.
There is a direct correlation between marital status and social class in some countries. Unmarried parents tend to be poorer in the West than their married counterparts, and poor young people are more likely to become single parents.
Married couples tend to be richer than single parents. It has been claimed that this is in part because of the opportunity for specialization. When at least one spouse is able to focus on market work or home production it will generally make sense to specialize. Specialization has a demonstrably enriching effect on families by improving efficiency, reducing training time, increasing productivity, and allowing parents to become more skillful in their divided responsibilities.Clearly, the advantages of specialisation would also apply to stable unmarried couples.
The "marriage wage premium" is another observed economic advantage in marriage, though a direct causation between marriage and wages is not proven. This premium is the extra income that married men earn over unmarried men. In the U.S. the premium is estimated to be an extra ten to 50 percent. In Australia, legally married men enjoy a premium of just over $2 an hour. Explanations for the premium are debated between causation (based on increased productivity) and correlation (based on spousal selection). Studies show support for only productivity, only selection, and both.
As part of the marriage gap, unmarried people are "considerably more liberal" than married people. With little variation between professed moderates, married people respond to be conservative 9 percent more, and single people respond to be liberal 10 percent more.
In the U.S., being a married woman is correlated with a higher level of support for the Republican Party, and being single with the Democratic Party. There's no significant difference between married people. Thirty-two percent of married people call themselves Republicans and 31 percent say they are Democrats, while among single people, 19 percent are Republicans and 38 percent Democrats. The difference is most striking between married and single women. Married women respond as being Republicans 15 percent more; single women respond as being Democrats 11 percent more.
The marriage gap is evident on a range of political issues in the United States:
The marriage gap is a controversial phenomenon, because it is not clear to what extent it is attributable to causation — getting married makes people become intolerant, etc — and to what extent is attributable to correlation — forbidding people to marry makes them less likely to get married. "We'd have to do a controlled experiment with very similar people, and let one lot get married, and the other not, and that isn't going to happen".
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