Marriage Chances Rise with Your Salary

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By Constantine von Hoffman

With fewer and fewer Americans getting married, what's the best way to improve your chances of finding someone to put a ring on it? Stay in school and get rich.

Barely half of all adults in the U.S. are married, an all-time low, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. In 1960, 72 percent of America's adults were married; today, it's 51 percent. If trends continue, married people will soon be in the minority for the first time in U.S. history.

While the number of marriages has declined, the desire for marriage hasn't. More than 60 percent of unmarrieds say they want to get married. And, while more people than ever think marriage is "an obsolete institution," that belief doesn't alter how much people want to participate in it. Nearly 40 percent of Americans agreed that marriage is going the way of the rotary phone (up from 28 percent 40 years ago). However, 47 percent of the unmarried adults who said this also said they'd like to get married.

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If you want to increase your chances of that happening, stay in school. Once upon a time education had no impact on whether or not you got married. Fifty years ago, 72 percent of those who never went to college got married, which was just 4 percent less than rate for those who did. Today only 48 percent of those with a high school diploma or less get married, but for college graduates the rate is 64 percent.

Given the correlation between education levels and income, it is easy to see that the more you earn -- or potentially earn -- the more likely you are to take at a walk down the aisle. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earning of someone with a college degree is $1,140 -- nearly double that of someone who only graduated from high school. (Also, 24.8 percent of Americans have college degrees today, that's more than twice the number 50 years ago.) Not only does income increase the amount of marriage, marriage also increases the amount of income. Married people tend to earn more and also benefit from economies of scale -- sharing the costs of housing and utilities for example.

©2011 CBS Interactive Inc., a CBS Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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