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Fewer Marriages and Lower U.S. Labor Participation - 3/15/16

The U.S. labor force participation rate has fallen rapidly for much of the past decade.  One of the primary factors has been an aging population, but there are certain other demographic factors at play.  One important demographic shift over the past few decades has been the decline of marriage. 

For instance, from nineteen seventy six to twenty fifteen, the share of white males ages forty five to fifty four who are married feel from nearly ninety percent to less than seventy percent.  Over the same period, the labor force participation rate for this cohort fell from ninety two percent to eighty seven percent. 

Historically, single men have tended to be associated with lower levels of labor force participation than married men.  This is true even among men with four years of college or more.  White men ages forty five to fifty four who are significantly educated and who are married are associated with a labor force participation rate of ninety five percent. 

That proportion falls to eighty seven percent for single men with substantial educational attainment.  According to Moody’s Analytics, the decline in marriage by itself explains half the decline in labor force participation since nineteen seventy six.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.