A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family is leading the way for research into the effects that raising the minimum wage have on marriage and divorce, being the premier systematic examination of the topic. This new research is revealing interesting and unexpected trends into what modest added financial security does to relationships among lower-income residents of New Hampshire.
The data showed that people were waiting longer before getting married, and fewer marriages were ending in divorce proceedings for those whose earnings are on the lower end of the spectrum in the states where the minimum wage was raised. Once life has been made a bit easier, people tend to get married later and have less of a chance of being divorced once they do.
Policies are too focused on communication issues
Efforts at the governmental level were designed to help lower-income couples by focusing on improving their communication, but those behind this new research point out that this simply wasn’t what was causing the problems. The question then arose as to whether or not a reduction of income inequality could have a direct impact on marriages and divorces, even when that’s not the end goal of economic redistribution efforts.
Again and again, the data indicates that the simple fact of not having enough money was causing stress and less-stable relationships. This makes for an important look into what raising the minimum wage could do to influence stable and lasting marriages of people that will hopefully generate significant policy change.
What the study found was that when the minimum wage increases, the positive impact is clear. What’s less clear, however, are the mechanisms behind the positive change. It could be that a boost in confidence, mutual esteem for each other, or the way that the couples think about the future. Further research is needed to get to the bottom of it. But what is clear, however, is that the way couples communicate and relate to one another on a deeply personal level has much more to do with external factors that are out of their control than policymakers recognize.