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Get Married, Make a Million Dollars (At Least) January 20, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.
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money-1501252666apFIn a 2013 online article for The Atlantic, Lisa and I looked at some of the benefits that married people receive from the U.S. federal government and calculated how much more a single person would likely pay over their lifetime, compared to their married peer, based only on these marriage privileges. Answer? The single person pays AT LEAST A MILLION DOLLARS MORE. AT LEAST. Witness marital status discrimination (MSD) at work.

To our chagrin, the Atlantic editors (who were otherwise great to work with) made a mistake in the pull-quote at the top of the article, which reads: Over a lifetime, unmarried women can pay as much as a million dollars more than their married counterparts for healthcare, taxes, and more.

I want to use the power of my Onely venue (and our whole 800 Copious Readers) to correct this pull quote, with the important changes in ALL CAPS. So here’s the correction, a mere seven years later after the article’s publication, because I’m nothing if not speedy:

Over a lifetime, unmarried people WILL pay AT LEAST A million dollars more than their married counterparts for healthcare, taxes, and more.

Back in the dark ages of 2012, Lisa and I Skyped for hours and ground our fingers to bloody stumps calculating our theoretical comparison between a single person and married person making the same income over their lifetimes.

Our resulting article can be found here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/the-high-price-of-being-single-in-america/267043/

Remember that I and Lisa only looked at some marriage benefits, and we only looked at federal privileges for marriage, not state privileges. If we’d had the time (and cognitive power, and any remaining fingertips) to factor in these additional privileges, our final figure would likely have bumped up from “more than a million dollars” to “WAAAAY more than a million dollars”.

To see some examples of institutionalized discrimination that Lisa and I didn’t get a chance to tear apart mathematically, have a look at this good overview of the main legal and financial privileges of marriage, as inscribed into U.S. law:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/marriage-rights-benefits-30190.html

Our goal with the Atlantic article was to show a concrete example of why singlism is a valid ISM that needs to be dismantled. After the article came out, we got some hate, but we also got a lot of cheerleading. However, in the seven years since its publication, no one else (that we know of) has attempted to crunch similar numbers. Copious Readers, do you know of any other projects like ours? Is anyone out there willing to run their own calculations? We’d love to see another singles advocate replicate our work using different hypothetical incomes.

We’d even love to see a heteronormahole try to do the math, in an attempt to disprove our theory that MSD costs unmarried people millions of dollars over their lifetimes. We bet they couldn’t do it.

–Christina

Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures

Comments»

1. Spinster - January 24, 2020

This confirms what I’ve kinda suspected over the years. So many people think that child-free, single people are financially well off and living the good life. My pockets say “No”.

Thanks for this.

2. The Dark Side of Singles’ Advocacy: Ignoring Institutionalized Singlism | Onely.Org - May 26, 2020

[…] on the Pinkie Finger I’ll put me and Lisa, for our 2013 Atlantic article about marital status discrimination in the U.S. federal government. In the article, we calculated […]

3. J. T. - July 22, 2020

I’ve learned that not everyone has a built-in sense of injustice. I started to consider that while complaining about the mortgage interest/rent rebate program in the state of PA – blatantly discriminatory against singles, but I was astounded to observe that the state legislative offices I complained to did not comprehend how it was unfair to treat two taxpayers, the same age, but one is a widow (previously not single…and what I call the “biblical widow”) is eligible to apply for the rebate, but the never married person is not. I think singles are silent on institutional singlism because they do not want to draw attention to their single status.


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