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The marriage gap describes observed economic and political disparities between those who are married and those who are single. The marriage gap can be compared to, and should not be confused with, the gender gap.
There is a direct correlation between marital status and social class in some countries.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Unmarried parents tend to be poorer in the West than their married counterparts, and poor young people are more likely to become single parents. However, this is usually due to taxation overwhelmingly favouring married couples [How to reference and link to summary or text].
Married couples tend to be richer than single parents. It has been claimed [How to reference and link to summary or text] 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.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
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.
Politics and marriage
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:
- same-sex marriage, 11% more married people favor Constitutional amendments disallowing it
- abortion, 14% more married people favor completely banning it
- school vouchers, 3% more married people favor them
Interpreting the data
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". 
- National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES).
- Ellwood and Jencks, p. 15
- See general advantages of labor division.
- Varian, "labor economists estimate that even when you control for age, education and other demographic effects, the 'marriage wage premium' is 10 percent to 50 percent."
- Breusch and Gray, p. 11
- Varian, "[Antonovics and Town (2003)] suggests that marriage really does have a causal impact on wages."
- Breusch and Gray, p. 1, productivity is based on specialization, and selection means that "a man who is favoured in the labour market is also favoured as a potential marriage partner (and vice versa)."
- Abstract of Why do married men earn more: productivity or marriage selection?
- Abstract of …What Males Gain a Wage Premium?
- Breusch and Gray, p. 12
- Ibid. Definitions of moderate, conservative, and liberal were not given.
- Penny Mansfield of One Plus One, quoted in the Guardian of 17-7-2007
- Antonovics, Kate, Robert Town (2003-11-01). Are All The Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium. Department of Economics, UCSD 2003 (15). Cited in Varian.
- Breusch, Trevor, Edith Gray Does marriage improve the wages of men and women in Australia?. (PDF) 12th Biennial Conference. Australian Population Association. URL accessed on 2007-04-27.
- Cauchon, Dennis Marriage gap could sway elections. USA TODAY. URL accessed on 2007-04-27.
- Ellwood, David T., Christopher Jencks (2002). The Spread of Single-Parent Families in the United States since 1960. (PDF) Harvard University. URL accessed on 2007-04-27.
- Hymowitz, Kay S. Marriage and Caste. City Journal. URL accessed on 2007-04-27.
- Jacoby, Jeff The politics of female voters. The Boston Globe. URL accessed on 2007-05-01.
- National Annenberg Election Survey, NAES (2004-07-02). Marriage Gap Bigger than Gender Gap. Press release. Retrieved on 2000-05-30.
- Varian, Hal R. Analyzing the Marriage Gap. The New York Times. URL accessed on 2007-04-27.
- Wilson, J. Matthew, Michael Lusztig (2004). The Spouse in the House: What Explains the Marriage Gap in Canada?. (PDF) Southern Methodist University. URL accessed on 2007-05-01.
- Social Science Research Network: Household Specialization And The Male Marriage Wage Premium
- Danish National Institute of Social Research: An Analysis of the Male Marital Wage Differential in Denmark
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