Whether and how people marry is as important to rising inequality as economic factors, and the media class is starting to realize it. The latest person to join the marriage-and-inequality camp is Derek Thompson, senior editor of The Atlantic’s business channel. His piece yesterday points to two social factors driving inequality: the rise of single parenthood among working class Americans and “assortive mating,” whereby the wealthy and the elite intermarry. More:
The decline in marriage rates among poorer men and women robs parents of supplemental income, of work-life balance, and of time to prepare a child for school. Single-parenthood and inter-generational poverty feed each other. The marriage gap and the income gap amplify one another […]This is the marriage crisis behind our inequality crisis. It is not complicated. It requires no regressions. It is the simplest math equation is the world. It says: Two is more than one.
It’s good news that the tight connection between marriage and inequality has become obvious enough that The Atlantic business channel is covering it. A consensus is forming that America’s stratified marriage cultures is a major root cause of economic inequality and insecurity.While it’s easy enough to diagnose the problem in the wake of books that have pioneered discussion on the subject like Coming Apart and Grand New Party, the tricky part is figuring out how to respond. An expanded child tax credit, like the one proposed by Senator Mike Lee, could be a good start, but overall we’re far from having a complete picture of cultural and political solutions to the marriage gap.[Wedding cake image courtesy of Shutterstock]