Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Inequality, Marriage, and Republican Irony

Income inequality is a major factor contributing to either delayed marriages, lower rates of marriage, or divorce. From an evolutionary perspective, women value status in men as long-term partners, and likewise men can use their status as a bargaining chip to attract women. In highly unequal countries, very rich men have less of an incentive to commit to one partner, while very poor men have problems attracting a mate. Constants are also less interesting when it comes to observable preferences - we can only exert selective behavior based on variations, not constants (e.g., if everyone's good looking, it's no longer interesting; you'll find personality traits to be more appealing). In highly unequal societies, women therefore may also become more selective about long term marriage partners as they calibrate their standards in relation to the men who are more successful.

One immediate irony of the Republican Party elucidated by this insight is that although they claim that gay rights undermine marriage, their advocacy of capitalism and pro-business policies actually lead to greater income inequality (for which they actually consider as justifiable), which ultimately undermines marriage.