Are you single, and looking for that one surefire way to attract that special someone? You may think that you’ve tried every trick in the book — waxing those eyebrows, hitting the gym, fancy clothes — but there’s one thing you probably never considered that just might bring the ladies or fellas running your way.
Researchers from U.C. Berkeley and Columbia University have determined that joining a union can actually boost an individual’s chances of finding a partner, and getting married. So, according to these findings, all this time the key to attracting your soulmate has simply been union membership and organized labor — who would’ve thought?
While it may seem a bit odd on the surface, it really just comes down to economics at its core.
“We argue that membership in a labor union may increase the marriageability of young men and women either by helping to secure economic benefits in the present or by sending a signal to potential mates about the stability and certainty of future economic prospects,” write Adam Reich and Daniel Schneider, the study’s authors. “We find that men covered by collective bargaining have a significant advantage in first marriage and that this relationship remains after adjusting for possible confounding characteristics such as age, education, region, and attitudes.”
Essentially, what we’re looking at in terms of attraction to union membership is increased earning power. When individuals earn greater wages, they are increasing their economic prospects and mobility. That, in turn, can come off as more attractive to potential mates. There has been a long conversation among economists and politicians regarding the economic advantages that marriage itself may pose, but family is one of the most important units in any economy.
We’ve written before about how the power of organized labor and unions has diminished significantly over the past few decades. Numbers from the Pew Research Center show just how big the drop-off has been: Over the past 30 years — from 1983 to 2013 — the number of American workers who belong to a union has dropped from 20% to 11%. As of 2013, there were roughly 14.5 million union members left, roughly evenly split between the public and private sectors.
Over that same time, marriage rates have been declining. Even between 2009 and 2010, Pew Social Trends found that the number of new marriages plummeted by a whopping 5%. 5% in one year. That was during the throes of the recession following the financial crisis, lending even more credence to the notion that economic conditions and marriage are associated.
So it does seem that there is some sort of correlation out there. Of course, it’s hard to draw any solid conclusions from those numbers, but they do show, as does the study mentioned previously, that there are some interesting economic forces at work. And while pro-marriage arguments are traditionally associated with Republican and conservative values, the potential link with unionization and organized labor could provide for some common ground with left-leaning thinkers.
Could it possibly be an area that policymakers could focus on in an effort to further stimulate the economy? After all, we’re living in a day and age when jobs have returned but aren’t providing the wages and benefits necessary to sustain a middle-class lifestyle.
Union jobs typically do provide those wages and benefits, but organized labor, as we’ve seen, is under attack from a lot of politicians and is being chipped away at by big business. The question is whether or not the economy can truly improve if more union positions return, and if marriage rates will also go up as a result.
Given the rather rough political climate surrounding organized labor at this time, it’s probably unlikely we’ll get a chance to see what happens firsthand. However, the numbers are there, and the research suggests that there is something to it.
Of course, correlation doesn’t suggestion causation, and it’s important to keep that in mind. But it still does shed some light into an economic force that may be at work.
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