As a single girl in NYC, I often think about what qualities and characteristics I would like my future husband to have. Good personality, attractive, caring, good family values…and of course I want someone who is stable in their carrier. Although, I believe that money is not everything and it can never replace true feelings and affection towards another person, I do believe that it is an important for a man as well as for a woman to be able to make a living and contribute to the family. Unfortunately, in todays society people are becoming more materialistic and will rather marry someone who has more money rather than a person who might have a smaller bank account but might have other great traits like a personality or a great sense of humor (oy, if I can meet a man who has a great personality, keep a good conversation and be able to make me laugh, I would not give a rats ass if he had money or not…unfortunately they are as hard to find as a needle in a haystack).
A new study published in the American Journal of Sociology found that people who are not as financially well off, or do not have other financial assets like cars and property, are less likely to get married. In the past few decades, the marriage pattern in America has changed drastically from what it used to be. Today, people choose to start a family later than sooner and some have started to give up the idea of a holy union completely. The statistics in the study “Wealth and the Marital Divide” indicate that between the years of 1970 and 2000 the average age of first marriage increased by four years and the percentage of unmarried have also rose from 5 percent to 10 percent. The study author, Daniel Schneider of Princeton University stated that, “the most striking is the increasing stratification in marriage by race and education.” Those who are less educated are significantly less likely to get married. Schneider then continued to explain that from the years 1980 to 2000 “the percentage of white women who had been married by ages 25 to 29 had dropped by 13 percentage points to 68 percent, but the drop was far larger for blacks, dropping 25 points, to just 38 percent.” He believes that this gap may be a result of the difference in people’s revenue as well as their employment status. Although, experts are not exactly sure why these gaps exist, several other studies have revealed that a good and stable job and a steady income are correlated to determine if a person is going to get married or not. Consequently, because African Americans as well as other individuals with a lesser amount of education face difficulties acquiring a job, they tend to wait longer before tying the knot, therefore enlarging the gap in the marriage rates.
However, Schneider says that income is only one fragment that contributed to the gaps. So, in his study he wanted to find out if other material factors, like cars, real estate, money in the savings account, as well as stocks and bonds can also be a contributing factor along with job and income. So, if persons capital is a causing factor in ones decision to get marred, then the current difference in financial income between African Americans and whites could be the reason for the gaps in marriage rates. In order to test his theory, Schneider used the information from the “National Longitudinal Survey of Youth”, in order to test whether owning such assets increased the likelihood that an individual would get married in a given year. In the end, the researchers found out that if a man possesses a car, it will increase the probability of him getting married in a given year by 2.6 percentage points, and if he owns a financial asset, the probability of him tying the knot increases by 1.5 percentage points. Though, not to the same degree, woman’s financial assets also increase her chances of finding her true love and getting married. The results from the study demonstrated that the wealth gap between the blacks and the whites is a major contributor to the growing marriage gap even more so than the differences in the income. Based on the statistics from the study, about 30 percent of the racial gap can be justified by wealth, while other factors like ones income, employment, and public benefits receipt explains only about 20 percent. In addition, someone’s wealth also explains more than half of the gap in marriage rates between individuals who did not finish high school and those who have earned a college degree.
Over the past 25 years, the social standard for marriage has altered in a way that puts wealth as a top priority. Our generation believes that before you get married you need to financially stable, otherwise you are not yet ready for anything serious. On one hand, looking for someone with a fat wallet rather than for a person with a good heart sounds materialistic and vain because you are not looking for someone to share your life with and create special moments, instead you are looking for a credit card that is going to buy you a Chanel purse or take you on nice vacations. An example of this would be the show “Millionaire Matchmaker”, where matchmaker Patti Stanger finds possible partners for single wealthy men and woman. Obviously the possible matches who come to the casting are not there to only find love; they are there mainly because they want to be set up with someone who is worth millions of dollars. Most of these women and men should have no trouble finding someone without the help of a matchmaker, but what they want is not just the average Joe, they want a Don Juan who is going to give them everything and more. On the other hand, in today’s time when economy is at its all time low, wealth matters in a way that it didn’t before. People have an added pressure to have a car, money in the bank and a home because these materialistic things act as a safety blanket that one can fall back into during a tough time. Both men and women feel insecure about themselves if they think that they are not driving a right car or have a certain amount of dollars in their account. Money issues could be a big strain on a couples relationship, so by having money put away, they are creating a buffer that will later help them get through tough economic times.
So in conclusion, I think that its nice to have some money in the bank before you say “I Do!” but its even more important to find a person who you truly care about. Because lets face it, in todays world its easier to make money than to find love!

Links:
The study: http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/07/lack-of-material-wealth-influences-whether-you-get-married/30149.html

Millionaire Matchmaker: http://www.bravotv.com/the-millionaire-matchmaker

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