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In the current economic state of high unemployment, thus a highly competitive job market, marriage might hold the key to employment success.  Economists from American University in Washington D.C. and Israel’s Haifa University* studied labor markets and concluded that marriage has a “positive effect on men’s motivation” and produces behaviors that “signal reliability to employers.”

Employers take note:  “Entry into marriage is associated with 262 more hours of work per year relative to the remaining never-married men.”  That trend doesn’t just end with “entry” or the first years of marriage, either, with remaining married predicting 155 more hours of work per year than from those who have never been married.  The flip side of this coin, however, is that “divorce lowers hours worked below the level among never-married men.”  The positive contribution of stable marriage to labor and employment remains constant even for men who might generally be regarded as less employable and it cuts across all race and minority groups.

Now let’s talk salary.  The study’s statistical analysis shows that there is “a 12% wage gain upon entry into marriage and an 18% gain in continuing marriage, relative to remaining never married.”  The study recognizes that part of that wage increase reflects that when employees work longer hours, employers pay more.  But the extra hours worked, alone, cannot account for the large difference in wage gain between the married and the unmarried.

Should you get more education for career success?  That certainly is one strategy, but this study may point to yet another option.  Yes, you guessed it; get married.  The researchers tell us that “marriage effects of these magnitudes are large [18 to 19% increase in earnings for married men]; they are equivalent to earnings gains associated with 2-3 years of school.”

These economists also remind us that in addition to the economic advantage for married men, other studies they surveyed showed “that marriage yields such benefits as better health, lower crime and reduced domestic violence.”  Add it all up, marriage has a pretty attractive “benefits package,” benefits that individuals and society cannot afford to forego.   So when you’re dressing up your resume, make sure you can add “married.”

*Avner Ahituv and Robert I. Lerman, “How Do Marital Status, Work Effort, and Wage Rates Interact?”  Demography 44 (2007:  623-47).

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