Married Men Earn $30K More Than Everyone Else

Find out why men who are married earn more money.

Men, and in particular, men who are married, are at the top of the salary ladder. A September 2018 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis report synopsis confirmed that the “average male worker earns a higher wage than the average female worker” — which isn’t particularly surprising because the gender wage gap has been reported on extensively. What is surprising is that married men out-earn everyone else by approximately $30,000.

Why Are Married Men Earning More Money?

The study from the St. Louis Fed’s Economic Research division was based on recent University of Minnesota data and focused on wage and salary incomes of employed men and women with at least a high school diploma. It showed that men, single or married, earn about $5,000 to $15,000 more than women throughout their 20s, but that married men earn more than single men and women — single or married — by a higher margin throughout their lives.

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The study synopsis cautioned that the findings don’t necessarily mean that men are earning more money because they are married, but rather that “men with higher wages are more likely to marry; therefore, the average married man earns a higher wage than the average single man.”

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How Men and Women’s Earning Patterns Change Over Time

According to the report, men often get married at an older age than women, explaining why the difference in wages is less pronounced earlier in life. Explaining why the wage gap is so much greater throughout people’s 30s, 40s and 50s, however, is more difficult.

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Here’s how the report’s data shows the wage differences over a person’s lifespan:

  • At around age 30, married men’s salaries started to rise compared to others — they make approximately $15,000 more than single men and single and married women.
  • By age 40, married men’s salaries rose above the other groups’ salaries by approximately $30,000.
  • From age 45 to 60, married men out-earn other groups by as much as $35,000.
  • After age 64, married men’s salaries still lead the other groups’ salaries by approximately $30,000, but the gap between married men and single men drops to about $25,000.

The progression through what are known as a person’s prime earning years makes sense because as you work more, you make more. As men and women near retirement, their salaries both decline, but the gap remains consistent.

Married Women Also Earn More Than Single Women — but Not Much

The data on women confirms that women earn less than men but also shows that married women earn more than single women. This finding gives weight to the conclusion that married people out-earn single people because people who have higher incomes can feel financially prepared to get married.

What was surprising was that, although married men earn up to $30,000 more than single men, married women only out-earn single women by about $5,000 to $10,000, if anything, depending on age. Married women earn more from their late 20s to late 40s, but then about the same or even less than single women when they reach their 50s and 60s.

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In comparing the findings on married women and single women, the study synopsis noted that it “is not consistent with the view that the gender wage gap results from women having children earlier in life and losing ground … relative to men.”

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Is the Gender Gap Closing for Singles?

Somewhat contradictory to the gender wage gap confirmation was the report’s finding that unmarried men and women’s salaries were similar. Whereas married men earn tens of thousands more than married women, single men only out-earn single women by about the same margin as married women do — $5,000 to $10,000. This could be interpreted as good news for closing the gender pay gap, at least for singles, but those salaries were all under $55,000.

The study synopsis showed that single men, single women and married women earned between $10,000 and $55,000 throughout their careers. In comparison, however, men who were married earned between $25,000 and $85,000 over the course of their careers.

Click through to read more about how the lack of women in high-paying jobs persists.

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