Marriage Gap: What It Is And How It Affects Being Single

Marriage gap

Fewer and fewer couples decide to get married, but there are more than a few who decide to have children. There are clear differences between having married and the long-term stability of the couple.

All of this is ultimately related to the couple’s financial resources, which can be especially diminished when they bring a child into the world and subsequently choose to separate.

Next we are going to see what the research says about it. The marriage gap in Europe and the United States in addition to reaching a few conclusions.

What do we understand by marriage gap?

The term “marriage gap” describes a set of economic and political differences between people who have married compared to those who remain single or they cohabit with their partner, but without having married.

Although it may seem like a somewhat retrograde statement, marriage is a factor that seems to correlate with the well-being, both physical and emotional, of family members and, especially, children. There are differences between being the child of happily married parents, divorced parents, unmarried parents, and single parents. In these four scenarios, the child’s social adjustment is different.

Although it can be compared to the gender gap, the marriage gap is not synonymous with it, although it is worth noting that, in general aspects, Single mothers are the ones who come out worst

What does the research say about it?

Over the last decades, both in Europe and the United States, An attempt has been made to find out what factors influence couples’ decision to marry or not and how this can significantly impact both the couple’s staying together and their economic prosperity.

Having children without being married is not a bad thing, but it is worth highlighting the importance and, above all, the stability that a commitment as solid as marriage provides. Although getting married does not guarantee that the couple cannot separate in the future (see divorces), it is more complicated to break a union such as marriage compared to being a couple and cohabiting. Getting a divorce is a much heavier and longer process at a legal and bureaucratic level than ending a relationship without being married.

Marriage has profound consequences on the stability and development of children Couples who marry before giving birth to children are more likely to stay together while raising children, compared to those who marry later or not at all. Between 70 and 80% of parents who have married before having their children stay together, while the percentage is 40% if they decide to marry later and only 30% if they never say “I do.”

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Couples who break up are more likely to suffer financial problems and require more help from the state. For example, About 60% of single parents receive some type of state aid, compared to 10% of those who are in a relationship. Apart from the problem of living with a parent with financial problems, living with only one of them and having little or no contact with the other, in addition to the psychological impact that divorce can imply, has a negative impact on the psychological health of the child. .

According to data collected by a professor at Brigham Young University in the United States, Professor Spencer James and Harry Benson analyzed several European surveys from 2014, reaching their conclusions about the marriage gap in Europe, seeing how this occurs. issue in at least 20 countries of the old continent. They observed that The marriage gap between rich and poor occurred in all countries that had been surveyed.

84% of parents with the highest incomes were married, while only 42% of those with the lowest incomes were married. They also found that marriage was much more common in Mediterranean countries, where 87% of wealthy families were married, while 53% of less wealthy families were also married.

However, the percentage of rich people in colder countries who were also married was not exactly low. Even in more liberal countries As the Scandinavians are, about 75% of the richest parents were married, while the percentage dropped to 30 among the poor.

If we jump to the other side of the pond, we see that the data in the United States is also quite interesting, in addition to allowing us to see how this gap has evolved in North America in the last 50 years.

In recent decades, the percentage of boys and girls who have been born out of wedlock has been increasing. Taking data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) of the United States in 1972, about 91% of children were born in an already married family, while this percentage was 53% in 2014.

Different factors have also been evaluated that, although it may seem that they have no relationship with the stability and prosperity of the couple, they have been shown to be determinants when making the decision to get married The data below takes into account characteristics of the mothers, and whether they are single or married.

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1. Age

Age is a very clear indicator regarding the marriage gap. Taking data from the ONS, in the 1970s mothers of all ages were, for the most part, married. Although there were differences between the youngest group (16-24 years old), 78% of them being married, and among the older ones, 25-44, 96%.

However, taking the same data but from a more recent year, it can be seen that In the 21st century, marriage declines among mothers of different ages, although in all age groups there is a significant drop. Between 25-34 years old, 65%, and between 35-44, 73%. Among young mothers, between 16 and 24 years old, only 16% of them choose to marry at such an early age.

2. Housing

In the 1970s, around 90% of mothers with young children were married, regardless of whether their housing was purchased, rented or subsidized. Since then, the marriage gap has been expanding between those mothers who live in a purchased home than those who live in a rented one. Those who are married tend to live in purchased houses and those who don’t, in rental houses.

3. Employment

In the 1970s, about 94% of mothers who were housewives or remained at home without paid employment were married. This percentage is reduced to 50% in 2006

4. Smoking

Although it may seem surprising, Smoking is a factor that has been related to having lower incomes Although in the 1970s there were no significant differences between people who smoked and those who did not in terms of whether they were married, today there does seem to be a relationship.

In that decade, about 90% of smokers and 94% of non-smokers were married, compared with 93% who had never smoked.

Today there is a gap even in this factor. Among those who still smoke, only 32% of them are married, while about 60% of those who no longer smoke are married and non-smokers rise to almost 70% of them married.


What is clear from this data is that, whether in Europe or the United States, there is a clear marriage gap when income is taken into account. Families with children who have a good income can afford to get married, while it seems that those who earn less do not dare to take the step This is because poor people, not being able to enjoy the economic stability that the rich have, do not dare to put their savings at risk.

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Based on what has been observed in the research, it is clear that a very notable marriage gap is occurring both in the United States and in Europe, in which socioeconomic factors are of great importance. The type of education, income and even a factor that may seem banal such as tobacco consumption seem to be related to being able to afford to take the step of getting married, in addition to maintaining this marriage.

These factors, depending on whether they are conducive to being able to get married, take on a dramatic role when deciding to say I do and decisions regarding starting a family. Deciding to marry or not is a factor that deeply affects the stability of the couple being, as we already said, deciding to get married a solid protector of the couple.

Given that more and more families are formed without the decision to marry having been made, but who cohabit, it is important to highlight the idea of ​​​​how important it is to understand how these types of families are at greater risk of breaking up than marriages. . More fragile families are synonymous with children with problems, since not having both parents nor having secure economic resources directly affects the standard of living.

Based on all this, It is especially urgent to create much more effective family planning plans than those that already exist and understand that, although not being married will not cause children to grow up unhappily, it is advisable to understand the great responsibility of bringing a life into the world.

If many couples choose not to get married because they see that they do not have enough income to prepare a wedding and all the aspects related to this type of ceremony, much less will they have the economic stability to raise a child. When that child comes into the world, he will require that her needs be met and that means money.

That is why it is especially important to make the population aware of taking the necessary prophylactic measures to avoid having children when they do not want it, and choosing to have them when they have been dating for many years, regardless of whether or not they decide to get married.