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Are Unmarried People Discriminated Against?

Certain subsidies and tax breaks for married couples and families were enacted to encourage marriage and keep children from falling into poverty. But is this fair to people who aren’t married? Fewer U.S. households are headed by married couples every year. And all those single people aren’t happy about paying more and getting less.

Activists say that unmarried people are systematically discriminated against. They pay more for health and car insurance than married people do. They don’t get the same kind of tax breaks. Co-op boards, mortgage brokers, and landlords often pass them over. So do the employers with the power to promote them. “Single-ism—stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single—is largely unrecognized and unchallenged,” says activist Bella DePaulo, the author of Singled Out.

There are justifications for every one of these, but that doesn’t mean much to individuals who don’t like being lumped into a group. But the differences swing both ways, depending on a person’s circumstances. I personally know people who choose to cohabit instead of marrying because of economic reasons. Low income people can lose Medicaid and other benefits if they marry, and elderly widows can lose pensions by remarrying. And we’ve all heard stories of married women being passed over for promotions because they might get pregnant. So is there really any way to achieve equity between those who are married and those who aren’t? Link

(Image credit: Flickr user Alan Cleaver)

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February 6th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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