National Marriage Week: Why Americans Marry More

Posted: Feb 13, 2014 1:42 PM

More than two million people marry in the United States every year, making it one of the highest ranked countries for unions internationally. From Feb. 7 to 14, the U.S. celebrated its fourth annual National Marriage Week.

Americans love marriage, Justin Wolfers, an economist and senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute said on Freakonomics radio. Despite the ease of cohabitation and monogamous partnerships, married couples are still more content than non-married counterparts—though perhaps not for the reason many people think:

Most people get this wrong. It turns out at any point in time the people who are married are happier than the people who are not married. People then infer from that, Oh boy, marriage must make you happy. But the alternative explanation is reverse causation that if you’re grumpy who the hell wants to marry you?

So this is selection effects. I think this is really important, because selection effects, that people who are married are selected, they’re not a random group of the population, are something that economists and statisticians talk about all the time. and so it seems to be completely obvious that the grumpy, the hard to employ, the selfish would all be far less likely to be marriageable and therefore be less likely to be married than others. And we actually say that married people look better on almost all measures, life expectancy as well, they’re healthier, than non-married people. But I think that’s because spouses are looking for happy, healthy, functional people.

So, perhaps, marriage simply shows a level of commitment and an adherence to a responsible lifestyle?

Based on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments Friday, it seems he would agree:

Marriage is a declaration of commitment, responsibility and stability that helps to bind families. The values of marriage are give and take, support and sacrifice - values that we need more of in this country.

Social scientists found marriage provides economic, physical, mental and emotional stability while fostering more robust relationships between husband and wife and parent and child. Marriage units have also been found to reduce the likelihood of crime and domestic violence.

With so many positive influences to society, is is little wonder marriage week has been celebrated with rallies, resolutions and Parliament celebrations in countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Germany for many years.