Marriage Has It’s Charm, Partly Because Divorce Is So Lousy

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From The New York Times
By Tyler Cowen

Divorce seems an unusual topic for economists, but decisions to end a marriage weigh costs and benefits and thus reflect economic reasoning. Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, both assistant professors of economics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, have led the creation of new studies, which are surveyed in their working paper “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and Their Driving Forces.”

The evidence suggests that married people — especially married men — are better off than the unmarried. But this doesn’t mean that everyone should marry, or that no one should divorce. Sometimes a marriage no longer makes sense, or it didn’t make sense in the first place.

In the year after a separation, most people report being less happy, at least in one major study based on British data. Nonetheless, one year after the divorce, both men and women are happier for their decisions (Jonathan Gardner, a business consultant, and Andrew J. Oswald, an economics professor at the University of Warwick, “Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?”).

Tango’s Take
It should first be prefaced that the couple conducting the study has been dating for 10 years without getting married. Beyond that, this is an interesting study. Some of the findings include that women with high incomes and high levels of education are less likely to get married because they can afford to be single. And women with low incomes are likely to get remarried faster after a divorce.
According to a survey referenced in the study, men and women are less happy during the year after a divorce but generally happy about the decision one year later.
On top of it all, it mentioned that marriages are at the lowest level in recorded American history. Maybe people are making better matches. Maybe more people are starting lives together without the need for marriage.
The researchers seem to think that unilateral divorce is the best thing since sliced bread. The least-unhappy partner has to work harder to keep things together. They should check out the trend for DIY amicable divorces, 'cuz typically if it’s not working for one, it’s not working for both.

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