The Marriage Gap



March 20, 2014

I had the pleasure of attending a policy briefing in Ottawa a few weeks ago where our friends at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada released the first ever analysis of Statistics Canada data examining the link between marriage and income in Canada. Their report is titled, The Marriage Gap Between Rich and Poor Canadians: How Canadians are split into haves and have-nots along marriage lines.

The data shows there is a dramatic “marriage gap” in Canada. The wealthy are mostly coupled up, and the poor are mostly unattached.
But Canadians are generally unaware of this. This is troubling because research shows marriage is a powerful wealth creator and protector against poverty, as well as a force for social mobility for children.

Researchers internationally are aware of the powerful protective power against poverty that marriage provides. However, Canadians, while very concerned about inequality and poverty, have not yet made the link to marriage.

While listening to the briefing, my thoughts were, “It is so interesting that the social scientific evidence demonstrates exactly what God promises in His Word. Where we live in families as He designed them to be: committed, monogamous relationships, then we can expect His blessing for generations to come.”

One question I posed to Peter Jon Mitchell, author of the report, at the conclusion of the briefing was whether marriage created the wealth, or whether it’s the wealthy who get married. Mitchell admitted that this chicken and egg argument remains unresolved in this study. He said, “A better question might be whether the wealth of marriage is inaccessible to those who are lower income.” Mitchell added, “If so, what can we do about it? Asking how marriage is faring along income lines is an important step in the process of looking to eradicate poverty long term.”

To see an executive summary of the report, click here.

To read the entire report, click here.

Some interesting facts – Did you know that:
• About half of middle-class families include a married (including common-law) couple
• In 2011, 86% of high-income families include a married couple
• In 2011, only 12% of low-income families include a married couple
• This “marriage gap” has widened since 1976 as marriage stayed popular amongst the wealthy but lost ground amongst mid to low income earners through the 1980s and 1990s
• An unexpected turning point occurred in 1998 as marriage ceased to decline
• Since then we have even seen a slight increase in marriage amongst certain age groups of Canadians in the mid to low income groups

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