The Price of Marriage

Freakonomics looks, ever so slightly, at the price of marriage.  It’s decrease with the dismissal of syphallitic blood tests have led to a 6% increase in marriages since 1980.  

And yet, it’s no secret that divorce rates are up (due to any number of factors but mostly to the lack of stigma surrounding divorce now).  Although, they aren’t nearly as bad as people make them out to be.  

“A very neat new study allows one to use the differential timing of the repeal of blood-test laws to infer what the demand curve for marriage licenses looks like as the implied price decreases,” writes Daniel Hamermesh.  He surmises that increasing the price of a marriage license could lead to less impetuous marriages — the kind that will ultimately lead to broken homes, unhappy coules, divorces, or unwanted children.  

But then he also rationalizes that the unintended consequence of raising the price of a marriage license could be an increase in the out-of-wedlock birth rates.  Sound the alarm!  Except that we know those birth rates have already been increasing significantly in America and so there would seem to be no correlation between the two.  

Here, raising the price of a marriage license (and to a degree allowing everyone to get married or abolishing the government from being in the “marriage” racket) isn’t a terrible idea if it keeps people from jumping into a marriage that won’t last.  

It’s a serious decision that requires serious thought and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  

Now, if someone can just do something about the actual costs of marriage ceremonies.  That’s getting absurd.  

Also?  Bouncy castles at weddings — thumbs up or thumbs down?

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