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Purdue study suggests marrying for love and money

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- What do married people have at retirement that divorced and never-married persons don't? A lot more money.

A Purdue University study sheds new light on the old practice of marrying for money. "Marriage has a lot to do with wealth accumulation," says Janet Wilmoth, assistant professor of sociology. "Getting and staying married appears to provide institutional benefits that greatly impact long-term economic well-being."

The study was based on a national survey of more than 7,000 households that included at least one preretirement person age 51 to 61.

"In later life, people who had never married had only 14 percent of the financial assets that married persons had accumulated. Divorced people who did not remarry had only 15 percent," Wilmoth says.

Even when divorced persons and surviving spouses remarried, they still didn't make up as much ground financially as those persons who had been continuously married. And, Wilmoth says, the negative effects are greater when a marriage ends due to divorce. "Those who were divorced and remarried had about 65 percent as many assets and surviving spouses who remarried had 73 percent," Wilmoth says.

She says the potential financial benefits of marriage include home ownership; insurance coverage for spouses; survivor pension benefits; and increased rates of saving. "Continuous marriage is more important to acquiring housing equity than other types of assets," she says.

The study findings were presented at the 1997 North Central Sociological Association's annual meeting.
CONTACT: Wilmoth, (765) 494-4676; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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