The Marriage Penalty/Bonus Debate: Legislative Issues in Black and White
16 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2014
Date Written: 1999
Many scholars have debated the marriage penalty/bonus question. Those scholars have proposed solutions ranging from individual filing requirements to increased child care deductions. However, all proposed solutions have a limited impact because they are built upon a model in which all women are assumed to be the same. If a solution to the marriage penalty/bonus issue is to help women in today's society, their differences must be explored.
For the most part, the literature treats all women as marginal wage earners who are discouraged from working in the paid labor market. Thus, solutions are designed to encourage women to work in the paid labor market. However, these solutions do not address the problem of the many women who are already working full-time in the paid labor market.
Part I of this article begins by briefly describing the marriage penalty/bonus issue. It then provides Census Bureau data that shows that African-American households are more likely to pay a marriage penalty and White households are more likely to receive a marriage bonus. Part II then describes proposed legislative solutions to the marriage penalty/bonus issue. Part II analyzes the proposed legislative solutions based on the differences in African-American and White households. This article concludes by noting that any solution to the marriage penalty/bonus issue must take into account the racial and class distinction among women.
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