The large and growing racial wealth gap in the United States has been widely discussed in the last few years.
What has been less discussed is how the reduction in black marriage rates accounts for a significant fraction of this gap. Black marriage rates were comparable to whites’ in 1940, and have steadily declined since, until they are roughly 60% of white rates across age cohorts:
Because married men make more than unmarried men even controlling for pre-marriage earnings, married couple households have substantially smaller racial gaps in income than all households; black married couple households make more than households of unmarried whites at all ages over 35:
Similarly, black married households have much lower poverty rates than white unmarried households at all ages over 25:
And black married households have higher home-ownership rates than white unmarried households for all ages over 40:
Some of this is likely accounted for by selection (more employable men getting married), and there are obviously cultural obstacles both across all households and particular to lower-earning groups to increasing marriage rates. But while marriage is not sufficient to closing gaps in wealth accumulation, it probably is necessary: two are cheaper than two times one.