Professor Erez Aloni publishes op-ed in The Guardian on government marriage subsidies

The Guardian, November 9, 2015


The social security loophole is only one of many benefits that profit those who are already better off. Others include tax and estate laws that exempt married couples from estate and gift taxes or lower estate tax liability; tax breaks from capital gains when selling a house, which double for married couples; the income tax “marriage benefit”, which favors unequal earners when one is the main breadwinner over couples with two relatively low earned incomes.

Some of these benefits attendant to marriage cannot be claimed to promote marriage among the poor and working class, as they rarely own property. And, in any event, studies consistently indicate that lack of wealth is a motivation not to get married.

Will people stop marrying if the state stops subsidizing marriage? While such a change might have an effect on the motivation to marry, I doubt if it will be significant. Marriage comes with many other benefits: medical benefits (such as adding a spouse to employer-provided health insurance), decision-making rights (such as health directive) and financial obligations between the spouses upon divorce, such as spousal support and equal division of property. And there are well-known social and health benefits to getting married too.

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