Open main menu

The economics of marriage includes the economic analysis of household formation and break up, of production and distribution decisions within the household. It is closely related to the law and economics of marriages and households. Grossbard-Shechtman (1999a and 1999b) identifies three approaches to the subject: the Marxist approach (Friedrich Engels (1884) and Himmelweit and Mohun (1977)), the neo-classical approach (Gary Becker (1974)) and the game theoretic approaches (Marilyn Manser, Murray Brown, Marjorie McElroy and Mary Jane Horney).[1][2] Marital status has a positive influence on economic status. There is a marriage prime for males that the wage of married males is 15% higher than the wage of never married male. The Uniform Marital Property Act issued clause on the distribution of marital property and individual property. The Uniform Premarital Agreements Act offers clauses to guide two spouses to make an agreement on distribution of rights and obligations before marriage.


Economic origins of marriageEdit

Richard Wrangham puts forward the view that women cooking for men is fundamental to marriage in hunter-gatherer societies.[3]

Many such examples suggest that the mating system is constrained by the way species are socially adapted to their food supply. ... The consequence of man's economic dependence takes different forms in different societies, but recall that according to Jane Collier and Michelle Rosaldo, his needing a wife to provide food is universal among hunter-gatherers. Food, it seems, routinely drives a man's marriage decision more than the need for a sexual partner.

This extends to men stealing women.[4]

Among the Inuit, where a woman contributed no food calories, her cooking and production of warm, dry hunting clothes were vital: a man cannot both hunt and cook. The pressure could drive widowers or bachelors to neighboring territories in an attempt to steal a woman, even if it meant killing her husband. The problem was so pervasive that ... unfamiliar men would normally be killed even before questions were asked. Lust was not the motivation for stealing wives. "The vital importance of a wife to perform domestic services provided the most usual motive for abduction," according to ethnographer David Riches.

Jeremy Greenwood and Nezih Guner (2009) argue that technological progress in the household sector, say due to the advent of dishwashers, frozen foods, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, tupperware, etc. has reduced the need for labor in the home. As a result, it is much easier to live alone. This has resulted in a smaller fraction of the population being married and a higher rate of divorce.[5]

Benefit of MarriageEdit

93% of employers in the United States provide health insurance to married couples.[6] There is marital wage premium for males, according to the survey “Summary Statistics of White Young Men Classified by Marital Status in 1976”, which was done by Korenman and Neumark, the hourly wage of married spouses present is $6.57, and hourly wage of the never married is $5.56, which was approximately 15% lower than that of the married spouse present.[7]

Legislation and reform of marriageEdit

Uniform Marital Property ActEdit

Traditional asset division system stated that what a spouse owns before marriage or personal earnings during marriage are considered as separated property. Uniform Marital Property (UMPA),a marital law that was first passed by the Uniform Law Commissioners in 1983,[8] considered a family as an economic entity. Each spouse owns half of the marital property and their individual property, which includes property before marriage and individual income such as gifts from a third person or added value on individual property before marriage. If there is uncertainty on ownership, the property will be considered as a community property. Both spouses have the responsibility to protect their marital property.[9] So far, only Wisconsin has adopted UMPA,[10][dead link] and suggestions have been made by which to revise UMPA before it is adopted in any other state.[11][citation not found]

Uniform Premarital Agreements ActEdit

Premarital agreement is an agreement that two individuals signed to distribute marital rights and obligations of each individual during marriage, after divorce, or death of one spouse.[12] Uniform Premarital Agreements Act (UPAA) was issued by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 1983 and has been employed by 27 states.[13] It includes rights and duties responsible to determine when and where a premarital agreement is practicable. It requires the premarital agreement to be in writing and signed by both spouses.[14] UPAA also record that a party must fairly disclose his or her property to another party if he or she wants to enforce the premarital agreement.[15] The adoption of UPAA differentiated in each individual states.

States Year of Adoption State-Specific Features
Arizona 1991 Agreement needs to be notarized
Arkansas 1987 Agreement must be acknowledged by both spouses;parties need to consult with legal counsel before waiving the right to disclosure.
California 1986 Abandon the allowance of modifying and eliminating spousal support.;Full disclosure of property and financial duties.
Connecticut 1995 Property includes both tangible and intangible property; agreement does not need to be in writing and signed; added child custody issue; determined how and when agreement is practicable; and "written schedule"
Delaware 1996 Removes language in section6(b)
District of Columbia 1995 Allows same-sex couple to have premarital agreement.
Florida 2007 Spousal support cannot be waived.
Hawaii 1987 None
Idaho 1995 Agreement must be acknowledged and proved
Illinois 1990 Changes for enforcement section; language of the UPPA was changed.
Indiana 1997 Organization structure;eliminates the fair disclosure on financial and property information the other party; language change
Iowa 1991 Income and earnings does not consider as property in section 596.1;does not allow using agreement to contract about spousal support.
Kansas 1988 Added a standard to determine the voluntariness of the agreement.
Maine 1987 None
Montana 1987 None
Nebraska 1994 None
Nevada 1989 Language changes
New Jersey 1988 The definition of premarital agreement; Give same-sex couple rights; Signed, acknowledged of agreement by both parties and statement of asset attach to premarital agreement.
New Mexico 1995 Agreement must be acknowledged in New Mexico;agreement cannot affect the right of child and spousal support; Removed subsection(b)
North Carolina 1987 language changes in section 52B-7(B)
North Dakota 1985 definition changes, not need to be in writing; adding new section about handling unconscionable provisions of premarital agreement.
Oregon 1987 None
Rhode Island 1987 Word changes enforcement section; insert subsection(b) in


South Dakota 1989 No strict limitation on signing and writing the agreement;Delete the modification and elimination of spousal support in agreement.
Texas 1997 Deleted the modification and elimination of spousal support in agreement. Add subsection to 4.006
Utah 1994 Language changes; add protection to child; Word changes in enforcement section.
Virginia 1985 Change in 20-150(4) allow to contract about child support; Add statement to 20-151(b) financial and property information does not need to be fairly disclosed


Spier (1992) has pointed out that there may be fewer prenuptial agreements than would be socially optimal. The reason is that if you ask your fiancée to sign such an agreement, you might signal that you fear that the probability of divorce will be larger than your fiancée would have thought otherwise.[17] Smith (2003) provides a survey of the law and economics literature on marriage contracts.[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana (1999)a "Marriage" in Encyclopedia of Political Economy, edited by Phillip O'Hara. London: Routledge
  2. ^ Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana (1999)b "Marriage, Theories of," in Elgar Companion to Feminist Economics, edited by Meg Lewis and Janice Peterson. Aldershot, U.K.: Edward Elgar
  3. ^ Wrangham, Richard (2009). How Cooking Made us Human. p. 175.
  4. ^ Wrangham, Richard (2009). How Cooking Made us Human. p. 169.
  5. ^ Greenwood, Jeremy and Nezih Guner (2009), "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, v. 23 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 231-276.
  6. ^ Badgett, M.V. Lee (1 July 2010). "The Economic Value of Marriage for Same-sex Couples" (PDF). Drake Law Review. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  7. ^ Korenman, Sanders; Neumark, David (1991). "Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?". Journal of Human Resources. 26 (2): 282–307. CiteSeerX doi:10.2307/145924. JSTOR 145924.
  8. ^ Krause, Harry (1994). Family Law: Cases, Comments and Questions. St. Paul, Minn: West Publishing. pp. 128, 427–428.
  9. ^ "Marital Property Act Summary". Uniform Law Commission. Uniform Law Commission. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Reppy, "The Uniform Marital Property Act: Some Suggested Revisions for a Basically Sound Act," 68 Marquette L. Rev. 448 (Spring 1985).
  12. ^ "Uniform Premarital and Martial Agreement Act" (PDF). Uniform Law Commission. Uniform Law Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ "the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act and Its Variations Throughout the States" (PDF). The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. 23 (335). 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Uniform Premarital and Martial Agreement Act" (PDF). Uniform Law Commission. Uniform Law Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  15. ^ "Premarital Agreement Act Summary". Uniform Law Commission. Uniform Law Commission. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  16. ^ "the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act and Its Variations Throughout the States" (PDF). The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. 23 (335). 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  17. ^ Spier, Kathryn E. (1992). "Incomplete Contracts and Signalling". The RAND Journal of Economics. 23 (3): 432–443. doi:10.2307/2555872. ISSN 0741-6261. JSTOR 2555872.
  18. ^ Smith, Ian (2003). "The Law and Economics of Marriage Contracts". Journal of Economic Surveys. 17 (2): 201–226. doi:10.1111/1467-6419.00193. ISSN 1467-6419.

Further referencesEdit