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Economists Just Figured Out That Marriage Is A Financial Front For Your Kids

If you’re wealthy and well-educated, there’s a decent chance you are (or will be getting) married, which makes you one of the only demographic holdouts for an institution on the decline among just about everyone else. While you wonder if those people all know something you don’t, researchers at UC Santa Barbara and Washington University are more interested in why that economic disparity exists — and they may have found the answer: your kids.

A new report by said researchers suggests that marriage is thriving primarily among couples who can afford to focus primarily on the so-called “investment” in their children. These are economists and demographic researchers, so in some sense this assertion is as shallow as it sounds: If you have a lot of money, you can afford everything necessary to give kids the best chance at long term success, from pre-pre-K all the way through a top notch education. But since the researchers aren’t totally soulless automatons, they point out that “investment” also refers to the social and emotional health — in the form of extracurricular activities … which also cost a bucket of money.

GraphOf course, the researchers aren’t suggesting that less affluent parents don’t want these things. Rather, they say that, absent the financial horsepower of the affluent, the downsides to marriage — limited independence and/or potential mismatch — loom much larger. Then again, if you’re in that wealthy demographic, that just confirms what you think you already know: that your marriage is way awesomer than everyone else’s.