Moving In Together Doesn’t Match the Financial Benefits of Marriage, but Why?

Married couples are four times as wealthy as unmarried couples who live together

Melissa Mowery and Alex Feiszli with their dog, Goose, at their home in Asheville, N.C. ROSS MARTIN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

By Julia Carpenter Updated Nov. 7, 2022 – for the Wall Street Journal

My cmnt: There are lots of reasons. From a strictly socio-economic standpoint marriage protects women and children. From a psychological standpoint it represents commitment and security. This is why divorce was taboo before the Libs pushed for and got ‘no fault’ divorce. However simply getting ‘hitched’ is not the same as having a proper (Biblical) understanding of marriage and be willing to keep one’s vows.

My cmnt: Without a society’s commitment to marriage then something else has to take that place. In the Western world that is the socialist government. But it always runs out of other people’s money. A committed husband and father will work two jobs for his family – but not for someone else’s family.

My cmnt: Societies that devalue marriage will likewise devalue children as a corollary. Children are expensive and a huge long term commitment. The generation that raises (correct is rears) them has a significant loss of money and freedom. As we throwaway the Judeo-Christian value system we had for millennia and it is replaced by godless hedonism both marriage and children will decline as the country moves slowly towards extinction.

My cmnt: The entire article can be read by clicking the WSJ link above.

A walk down the aisle can be a route to greater wealth and prosperity for couples in the U.S. Married people have higher net worths and are more likely to be homeowners than their unmarried counterparts their age are.  

The mystery, though, is why cohabitating but unmarried couples struggle to build wealth in the same way. As of 2019, the median net worth for cohabiting couples age 25 to 34 was $17,372, a quarter that of the $68,210 for married couples of that same age range, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. For singles it is $7,341.

The wealth gap between partnered and married couples is larger than one might expect, said Ana Kent, a senior researcher at the St. Louis Fed. “It’s so intriguing,” she said.

Over the past two decades, Americans are moving in together at higher rates, according to data from Pew Research Center. The share of U.S. adults who are currently married steadily declined from close to 60% in the 1990s to under half in 2019, according to Pew. Over the same period, the share of adults age 18 to 44 living with a partner climbed to 59%. 

Many young couples now approach marriage as a “capstone” event, said Andrew Cherlin, professor emeritus of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, who studies marriage. 

“If you build an arch, the cornerstone is the first piece you put in and the capstone is the last,” he said. “What this means is people see an economic bar they need to clear before they get married. Couples wait until they have good jobs, a car that won’t break down, maybe even a house. Then, they get married.”

Melissa Mowery, a 30-year-old communications manager in Asheville, N.C., has been with her boyfriend for five years and living together for nearly four. The two don’t share a joint bank account, but they split the cost of rent and other bills. Even so, Ms. Mowery said she can’t make sense of the financial gap between her relationship and that of married couples.

“We’re already saving a lot of money and splitting the cost on most things,” Ms. Mowery said. “I don’t understand how married couples are accumulating wealth in a way we’re not doing.” ROSS MARTIN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNA

“We’re already saving a lot of money and splitting the cost on most things,” she said. “I don’t understand how married couples are accumulating wealth in a way we’re not doing.” 

While there are legal and tax benefits to marriage, research suggests the financial security and long-term mind-set of those who tie the knot may also be a powerful driver of wealth. More married couples pool their money—such as sharing savings accounts and investing together—to achieve certain goals, Ms. Kent said. Cohabiting couples are less likely to combine finances and investments.

Working with two incomes and combining their investments to maximize compound interest can significantly increase a couple’s financial prospects, said Emily Garbinsky, associate professor of marketing at Cornell University, who has studied couples’ financial behavior. Simply put, married people may be more likely to be on the same page financially, she said.

“Married people may be much more likely to have these conversations around what goals they have for their financial future,” she said. “There seems to be something very special and unique about deciding to share finances.” 

Unmarried couples may be less willing to commingle their money, said Prof. Garbinsky.

“Our money, our income, represents a huge part of who we are,” she said. “[Sharing] that can be scary for people, so they tend to be very protective.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s