Marrying Jewish is a Good Investment

Marrying Jewish is a good investment.  Marriages between Jews tend to end in divorce less. The marriages tend to last longer and partners in marriages to Jews report less experiences with Antisemitism and by comparison to other major religious groups, are less likely to divorce.

Aside from being the usual existential threat to the Jewish people, marrying out may be personally expensive because it brings along a number of potential costs to the Jewish partner.

Intermarried Jews in Los Angeles reported higher rates of recent Antisemitic encounters than in-married Jews, probably for the obvious reasons of marital arguments where the kitchen sink along with choice epithets may be tossed.  The likelihood of an intermarried Jew coming into contact with the extended family and friendship circle of the non-Jewish partner, not all of whom are philo-Semites and the inadvertent comments that may emanate from them is higher. Inter-marrieds also tend to live in areas that don’t have many other Jews living there for a variety of reasons, one of which is housing costs are higher in Jewish neighborhoods.

Another cost may be that marriages between Jews and non-Jews don’t last as long as marriages between Jews.  A study looked at when there was at time in California  when a couple filed for divorce, they were required to list each partner’s religion.  When both partners in the marriage are the same religion they tended to have longer marriages than persons who married  a person of another religion.

In-married Jews had the longest median time married before filing for divorce, over 8 years, among all other religions who filed for divorce.  When both individuals in the marriage were Jewish, 70 percent were married five or more years to separation, but when the husband was Jewish and the wife non-Jewish or the reverse, only 53 percent of the marriages were married five or more years to separation.  That is a third longer marriage among couple where both were Jewish, who eventually filed for divorce.

Does this mean that Jews who married Jews suffer longer before filing for divorce?  Jews were under-represented in the divorce statistics, having half of the representation that Jews should have had in California of 1966, 1.6 percent of the divorces filed when the Jewish proportion of the population was 3.6 percent.  Roughly, Jews married to Jews had double the resiliency in their marriages than other types of marriages in California of 1966, that is 43 years ago.  Whether that resiliency of Jews marrying Jews exists now, we would have to wait until 2056 and have the same type of information available.

Other interesting findings from the California divorce filings was that Jewish females who marry out and divorce tend to divorce their men faster, roughly by a year, than Jewish men who eventually divorce.  It’s interesting to speculate as to why?  Do Jewish women have higher standards and demands of their non-Jewish spouses than Jewish men have of their non-Jewish spouses?

Even for marriages ending in divorce, marrying within one’s faith, for all religions, meant a 50 percent longer marriage before filing for divorce.  Did that mean 50 percent longer suffering for all those those who marry with their faith?  Since all marrieds know that it is hard work at any stage, it may be that exhaustion was just reached earlier by intermarried of any faith.

Having any religion, by either marriage partner, brought greater marital longevity as it probably created a greater likelihood of actually getting married. The increase in unmarried couples living together and the increasing numbers of children of these unions may be indicative of the aversion to investing in a marriage.  Same-faith unions have a record of reducing the risk of marriage ending in divorce.  Unfortunately, the fastest growing religion in the U.S. and Canada currently is “no religion” and that had the marriages of shortest duration until the filing of divorce.

Marriage and forming a family is likely to be an individual’s single greatest life investment.  Its good to have some sort of faith tradition and if it’s Jewish, that seems a bit better and if two Jews marry, that seems the best investment, just from looking at the available data.

About the Author
Pini Herman, PhD, is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research based in Los Angeles; He specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis; He has been affiliated with the University of Southern California Dept.of Geography, the USC School of Social Work, and served seven years as Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
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