Fight Poverty With Love

Ideas about having affordable fun and keeping out of the poorhouse with marriage.

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A couple of interesting ideas have come into my in box over the past few days:

• James Q. Wilson, professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, argues that the next president of the United States should encourage marriage as a way of reducing poverty. "The new president should realize that poverty in the United States is primarily a problem confronting children and young unwed mothers," he writes. He says the Health and Human Services Department should launch a marriage-strengthening program. He doesn't mention anything about a government-run dating service.

• A new paper from Dan Black, professor at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy Studies (disclosure: my alma mater), to be published later this year in the Journal of Human Resources looks at the wage gap between well-educated men and women. Black found that, as a whole, well-educated women earn about 30 percent less than their male counterparts. But when looking only at men and women who speak English at home, a significant chunk (between 44 and 73 percent) of the wage gap can be explained by age, education, and major. When looking only at women with work experience similar to their male counterparts, the gap disappears even more.

But Black warns against jumping to the conclusion that wage discrimination has all but disappeared among the well educated. It's possible, for example, that women select fields that pay less because they expect discrimination in their original, higher-paying choices.