It Can Cost Women $1,000,000 More Than Men to Stay Single


As if being a young single woman isn't hard enough these days, we also have to pay significantly more in income taxes, housing, and health care than our married counterparts. You know what that means, right? Don't be anyone's sugar mama. You may actually go broke.

Using the same method New York Times reporters Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber created to determine that unmarried gay couples lose more money a year than straight married couples, Lisa Arnold and Christina Campbell published an Atlantic piece outlining how single women have to pay a lot more to survive than women who have tied the knot. By creating four characters in Virginia, two married females and two single females of the same means, the writers found that the married women saved thousands each year.

The imaginary single woman making $40,000 each year for a 40 year period paid $245,000 in income taxes over that time frame. The hypothetical married woman with the same salary shelled out $206,000 in income taxes during that span, nearly $40,000 less than the unmarried woman. The other pair of hypothetical women earned $80,000 per year, with the unmarried woman paying $645,000 in income takes and the married lady putting forth $490,000 in income taxes.

And that's just the beginning. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that couples put 23.9% of their annual income toward housing; single men spent 30.3%; and single women shelled out the most at 39.8%. The hypothetical married woman earning $40,000 a year saves $381,600 in comparison to her unmarried equivalent, and the woman taking home $80,000 a year saves $763,200 more than her unmarried counterpart.

By the time retirement rolls around for the hypothetical woman earning 80 grand a year, she has the option of deferring it between ages 66 and 70 and earning $55,896 on top of her income by collecting her spouse's Social Security. Unsurprisingly, the single women can pay up to $379,200 more in health care costs than married women over the course of 60 years. She better hope she never falls ill or needs to go on Disability either, as the system "greatly favors married disabled people," the writers argue: "[O]ur unmarried women's retirement accounts will suffer. Without a job and on a tight disability budget, she would likely struggle to save in an IRA, and as we described above, no one could save for her. However, the husband of a non-working, disabled married woman might manage to afford the yearly $5,000 contributions to the IRA."

All in all, the imaginary unmarried woman making $40,000 a year lost $484,368 for being single over the 40 year period. The higher-earning single woman paid $1,022,096 just for being unmarried during that span. Though the writers anticipate that some will try to find fault with their data, they admit that they "made only the most conservative of estimates and still reached the conclusion that, no matter which way you read the numbers, the final assessment remains the same: Singles get screwed."

While they left a lot of factors out of the equation — women changing or losing jobs over the course of a lifetime, children, divorce, or the likelihood of the women outliving their husbands — I think we can all agree that single people are getting the short end of the stick here. So in the words of Beyonce, if you like it, then you should put a ring on it.