Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Missionary Dating (Not what you think)

In honor of Blog Action Day 2008 I'd like to give you some thoughts on this years topic, poverty. There is undoubtedly an increasing gap between rich and poor in America. According to The Economist, "the gap in America is bigger than in any other advanced country." That's not to say the poor are poorer, but the rich are getting richer faster. The Economist goes on to say that "thanks to a jump in productivity growth after 1995, America's economy has outpaced other rich countries' for a decade. Its workers now produce over 30% more each hour they work than ten years ago." But inequality is still a major political issue. So what is something that average Americans can do to help the situation? I propose Missionary Dating (no, not that kind of missionary dating).

One of the main causes of income inequality in America, is a direct result of "assortative mating." This New York Times article explains that Americans are increasingly pairing off by education and income level. They report that "the odds of a high-school graduate marrying someone with a college degree declined by 43 percent between 1940 and the late 1970s." The cause of this is increased college attendance and mobility. It is simply easier to find someone like you. In fact, Arnold Kling seems to think the main purpose of higher education is not training or signaling, but is a place to meet a qualified spouse. Greg Mankiw humorously claims "that Harvard is the world's most elite dating agency."

A 2003 study by a Brookings Institution economist showed that "a rising correlation of husband-and-wife earnings accounted for 13 percent of the considerable growth in economic inequality between 1979 and 1996." He is less confident that assortative marriage is on the rise. He thinks that men have always married similar women, it's just that these women now have the opportunity to get high paying jobs like their husbands. Nonetheless, the rich marrying the rich is on the rise.

This is one solution to solving economic inequality, that is if you think it's a problem. Let's not forget about the Tradeoff of Socialism and Capitalism. Maybe we should all marry someone poorer or less educated. But our effect doesn't have to be through a marriage contract. Traci and I have seen the many perks that come with having a middle class community (almost everything we own was given to us: furniture, cars, dishes, kitchen table, computer, bed, etc). One way we can close the divide is to engage ourselves and our families geographically and relationally in the lives of those less fortunate.

1 comment:

  1. Another relevant article:


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.