Marriage Makes Monetary Sense, Analysis Finds

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Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Weary of the ties that bind? Here's another reason to buck up and stay married: Those who divorce lose 77 percent of their personal assets, according to a study released yesterday by the Ohio State University.

"If you really want to increase your wealth, get married and stay married. On the other hand, divorce can devastate your wealth," said study author Jay Zagorsky, an economist with the university's Center for Human Resource Research.

He analyzed annual surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that tracked the financial and marital status of 9,055 young adults from 1985 to 2000; the respondents were in their 20s at the start.

The findings? Marriage is simply good business. Couples don't need Wall Street savvy to get ahead: Their worth increases by 4 percent each year "just as a result of being married," because they combine assets and share a household, Mr. Zagorsky said.

According to the statistics, single people had modest growth in wealth during the 15-year survey period. On average, they started with less than $2,000 and ended with $11,000.

People "showed a sharp increase in wealth accumulation" after tying the knot, Mr. Zagorsky said, averaging $43,000 after a decade of marriage.

Those who divorce, however, enter a dismal financial state even before the decree is final.

"Divorce causes a decrease in wealth that is larger than just splitting a couple's assets in half," Mr. Zagorsky said. He found that couples who part experience a steady decline in finances up to four years before their split, with assets averaging $3,500 in the year before divorce. …