The Value Of Family Values

It's difficult to achieve a balance between work and family, as millions of stressed-out Americans can attest. Alas, psychologists and sociologists have suggested that people who value family may pay a price in lower earnings. Now, a study argues the reverse--that individuals who believe it is important to have a good family life in fact earn higher wages than those who don't place the same value on family.

While earlier economic studies did show that wages are higher for married men than for single men, the reasons for this have not been clear. Using longitudinal data, Peter Cappelli and Clint Chadwick of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and Jill M. Constantine of Williams College linked attitudes and earnings.

High school seniors who stated in 1972 that finding "the right person to marry" and having "a good family life" were very important to them 14 years later earned wages 4% to 7% higher than individuals who placed less value on marriage and family, the researchers found. (The study adjusted for other factors such as education levels and work experience that might produce an earnings differential.) The results were true for both men and women, although the number of children a woman had did have a negative effect on her earnings.

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