The Marriage Tax: Going, going, gone . . .

William S. Lear rael at
Thu Jun 25 08:30:11 PDT 1998

On Thu, June 25, 1998 at 10:45:42 (-0400) Max Sawicky writes:
>Here's a different argument I'd like to
>try out on you all:
> .... With no penalty, more savings from
>sharing accrue, so with no penalty there is
>more incentive to marry somebody with higher
>income. Since men have higher incomes, they
>will less often choose as a spouse someone with
>lower income. There will be less income mixing
>within marriage, less class mobility in society.
>I think that's bad, though clearly marriage
>should not be considered the only avenue of
>upward income mobility for women.

I find this unconvincing. First, it is true that marriages are based somewhat on income similarities, but I think this is due to social circles generally being so shaped, not on calculations that might drive people to search outside these circles. Since the tax change is not affecting the class makeup of social circles, I don't see any reason for less income mixing within marriage.

Second, even if your calculus of marital choice were correct, it doesn't seem to me that the income changes from the tax changes would be either very great or terribly salient to people considering marriage; I would like to see the salience of partner's income compared to other characteristics, and more importantly the salience of tax laws as they affect choice.


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