August 4, 2009

Marriage price affects marriage decision

The cost of premarital blood tests as well as the psychological cost for some can result in two people not marrying, U.S. researchers suggest.

University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles, Melanie Guldi of Mount Holyoke College and Joseph Price of Brigham Young University suggest money -- or more precisely the price of marriage -- can significantly affect the decision to marry.

The cost of marriage involved obtaining a marriage license and the blood test requirement.

Until the 1980s, most states required a blood test for a wedding license. The law required the test to screen for certain conditions, such as rubella or syphilis, to reduce the spread of communicable disease and prevent birth defects.

However, by 2006, the requirement had been phased out everywhere except Mississippi and the District of Columbia.

Using data on state marriage rates from 1980-2006, the researcher found that when blood test requirements are in place, states issue 5.7 percent fewer marriage licenses.

Premarital blood tests may have a heavy psychological cost because some avoid them due to fear of the sight of blood or the burden of discovering a positive test result that has to be revealed to a partner, Buckles said.