There has been a tremendous erosion of marriage over the last 50 years, in particular among the young, poor, and non-white. Why has marriage seemingly lost value for some groups, while retaining it for others? This paper proposes an explanation for this phenomena, arguing that as divorce has become easier, and non-marital contracts better substitutes for marriage, the treatment of assets in marriage has become an important distinguishing factor. We argue that assets provide insurance value to partners who reduce their own earning potential in order to invest in children, and thus the marital contract, which treats assets differently than non-marital contracts, has more value for those with assets. (Author abstract modified)
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Betting the House: How Assets Influence Marriage Selection, Marital Stability, and Child Investments.