Marriage unrivalled for happiness and prosperity

Feb 28, 2024

If you want to be happy and prosperous, get married. That’s the stark advice from top public intellectual Brad Wilcox, whose new book Get Married makes the case for marriage to a generation that is increasingly staying single and living to regret it.

Wilcox, who is Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia and Director of the National Marriage Project, found worrying trends of younger people rejecting marriage, spurred on by both an elite left-wing ideology that portrays it as oppressive to women and an online right-wing movement that claims it is a bad deal for men.

Both these criticisms are wrong, says Wilcox. In fact, social science data consistently show significantly improved life outcomes for men and women who get married instead of remaining unmarried.

For example, Wilcox states that in 2020, American married mothers aged 18 to 55 had a median family income of $108,000, compared to $41,000 for comparable childless single women. That’s more than twice as much, even though the latter group remained childless. What’s more, married women in their 50s accumulate $357,000 in median assets, compared to less than $30,000 among comparable unmarried women. Similarly, married men approaching retirement have ten times more assets than their unmarried peers.

And it’s not just money. Married women aged 18-55 are almost twice as likely to be “very happy” with their lives (37%), compared to unmarried women (19%). It’s the same story with men: 34% vs 13%.

Conversely, 23% of unmarried women aged 18-55 say they are “not too happy” with their lives, compared to 13% of married women. For men it’s 27% vs 17%.

Indeed, the evidence shows that marriage is a better predictor of happiness than education, work, money or almost anything else.

Wilcox stresses that just living together is no substitute for the real deal. Cohabitation is less committed, more unstable and less happy than marriage.

At C4M we know that marriage is good for us, which is why, along with its benefits for children and wider society, we call for it to be promoted and protected. We are pleased to see voices like those of Wilcox breaking through into mainstream media and academia with this crucial message. We long to see the tide turning in our society and a new generation rediscovering the many blessings of marriage.