Marriage Matters More When You Earn Less

Apr 13, 2018

Most studies suggest married people are happier than singles. But new research from Georgia State University points to an equalizer: money.  

The study looked at symptoms of mild depression. It found couples making more than $60,000 dollars a year fared the same as never-married people making that much on their own. 

“Once you’re doing well enough in terms of income, you don’t need an additional benefit from being married," says Ben Kail, a sociologist at Georgia State University. 

"It’s the people earning less than $60,000, who have deficits improved by getting married.”

Kail says about half of the marriage benefits enjoyed by poorer people were attributed to financial stability, and "the increase in people feeling like the things they do really matter in the world.” 

The study used surveys of thousands of people over a 25 year period.  It did not factor for children, or compare married people to those who've lost as spouse to death or divorce. 

Overall, the richer people were, the less their marital status predicted psychological well-being. 

Kail says: "At the highest levels of income, the never married fare better in terms of depression than the married. They have fewer symptoms... All of these are subclinical levels of depression, meaning the disease is not severe enough to be clinically referred to as depression, but can nevertheless impact your health and happiness."