Marriage lobby divorced from reality
Here’s a beautiful illustration of what I’m trying to do. Feministing and Freakonomics are both posting about that report on the cost of divorce. Feminists have long criticized marriage incentives and the reasoning behind them – Feministing’s take hits home as always, pointing out the “family values” sponsors of the report.
Studies like these are not just about promoting marriage, of course, they’re about promoting traditional marriages. And the idea that women don’t need a job (just a man) has [been] hurting women welfare recipients for far too long.
Great. Now let’s look at the social science. Over at Freakonomics, Justin Wolfers’ fantastic post takes us through the numbers. It turns out that on average, women are a little better off financially after a divorce – the “marriage movement” doesn’t take into account that increase in tax revenue. And there’s more.
The U.S. tax system is structured so that when poor single mothers marry men with higher incomes, in most cases, the total tax paid by husband and wife would fall. Yet this isn’t counted. Those poor single women aren’t robbing us of tax revenue, they are actually paying more than if they were married!
To be honest, Wolfers’ post is a gift – I can think of very little to add. You should check it out, and while you’re at it poke through some of his other writing on the economics of the family.