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November 15, 2018

Marriage makes you happier only if you earn less than Sh6m - study

"Married couples with a household income of less than $60,000 per year had fewer depression symptoms than unmarried people with a comparable salary."
"Married couples with a household income of less than $60,000 per year had fewer depression symptoms than unmarried people with a comparable salary."

Marriage could affect your risk of depression - depending on how much money you make, a new study says.

Married couples with a household income of less than $60,000 per year had fewer depression symptoms than unmarried people with a comparable salary, according to a study by researchers at the Georgia State University.

Meanwhile there was no noticeable boosting effect in married couples making more than $60,000 a year.

The study authors suggest that this is because pooling income can have a positive impact on a person's well-being if they're strapped financially, but doesn't make a difference for those who are more well off. 

 

The effect of marriage on well-being has been debated for decades as previous research has indicated both that married people are happier and healthier than single people and that marriage is a main source of long-term stress. 

The study published Tuesday in the journal Social Science Research is one of the first to question whether psychological well-being in marriage is influenced by socio-economic status.

Researchers examined data from the Americans' Changing Lives Survey, which consists of interviews with more than 3,500 adults ages 24 to 89 in the US covering a range of sociological, psychological, mental and physical health topics.

Respondents were split into three groups: never married, married and newly married adults. 

Their responses were evaluated using a measure depressive symptoms, meaning the disease is not severe enough to be clinically referred to as depression, but can nevertheless impact health and happiness, according to lead author Dr Ben Kail.

"We looked at the interrelationships between marriage, income and depression, and what we found is that the benefit of marriage on depression is really for people with average or lower levels of income," Dr Kail, assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State, said.

"Specifically, people who are married and earning less than $60,000 a year in total household income experience fewer symptoms of depression."

"But above that, marriage is not associated with the same kind of reduction in symptoms of depression."

In fact, among people with the highest levels of income, those who were never married had fewer depression symptoms than those who were married.

The findings support a theory called the marital resource model which suggests that one of the health benefits of marriage includes pooling resources.

Dr Kail said combining income with one's partner likely helps those who are financially-strapped feel better about their situation.

For those who are financially stable, pooling resources wouldn't have the same effect.

"For people who are earning above $60,000, they don't get this bump because they already have enough resources," Dr Kail said.

"About 50 percent of the benefit these households earning less than $60,000 per year get from marriage is an increased sense of financial security and self-efficacy, which is probably from the pooling of resources."

The report cites a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, that suggested marriage can cause depression. 

The study looked at couples who had been married for 11 years and measured how often they frowned. 

The most common frowning-triggers identified by the study were being criticised or let down by one's partner.

The study was one of the first to suggest a downside to marriage following years of advice from experts that marriage makes people happier, healthier and more likely to live longer.  

 


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