Recent Study Reveals Correlation — Not Causation — Between High Wedding Costs and Divorce


divorceThe perception of a recent study has caused a number of people to make an all too common mistake — taking correlation to mean causation, and it’s an age old institution that’s getting the brunt of the blow back. According to the Wall Street Journal, two Emory University economists, Hugo Mialon and Andrew Francis, conducted a study that reveals a correlation between the amount of money spent on a wedding and how long that marriage will last. What they found is that weddings that have a high price tag also typically end in divorce.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this prompted many people to assume that the fact that spending more money on a wedding means that the wedding will not last; ergo, if you want to have a long lasting happy marriage, make sure the wedding is cheap.

But this isn’t the case. One of the study’s authors, Mialon, clarified, “Of course, there was a natural tendency in some of the ensuing media to assume that correlation implies causation. Our paper’s main point is purely correlational.”

Neither does the study back up the implicit message of wedding-related advertisements and marketing campaigns. “Our findings do not support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message connecting expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes,” Mialon added.

The study examined some 3,400 responses to an online survey that asked respondents questions about their marriage, the dating process, length of dating and marriage, feelings at the time of the proposal, as well as how much the wedding and engagement rings cost and how many people attended the wedding.

The study found that men who spent more on engagement rings ($2,000 to $4,000) were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than men who spent less ($500 to $2,000). Additionally, couples who spent $20,000 or more on their weddings were 1.6 times more likely to divorce.

“We don’t see any direct correlation between wedding costs and the happy couples we stay in touch with years down the road who arrive here for other events. We work very hard to customize wedding solutions,” says Jeffery Robinson, Director of Sales at Deerfield, which includes a public golf course and popular wedding venue. “For example, instead of starting with the wedding package, we can often start with the guest list and per person budget and work from there. Or we can start with the specifically tailored wedding package and work the budget to fit the wedding plan.”

Though the amount spent on the wedding may not be a reliable indicator of the success of the marriage, with an average price tag of $27,000, Americans are no doubt looking for ways to cut costs on their nuptials.

About 7,000 couples tie the knot in the United States each day, but the price tag on their wedding may have little to do with the length and success of the marriage. The study found that characteristics (not necessarily causal, of course) of long lasting weddings are high household income, having a child together, attending religious services, and going on a honeymoon.

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