If you’re a single man and you’re not earning what you think you’re worth, maybe it’s time to consider tying the knot. Volumes have been written about the so-called wage gap between men and women in the workforce, but now there’s evidence to suggest that not all men are created equal. Married men tend to make more money—much more money— than everyone else.

A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that, on average, married men with at least a high school diploma tend to earn tens of thousands of dollars more annually during their prime earning years than single men—and more than all women irrespective of relationship status. What does this mean for you? The study shows a correlation between lifestyle choices and income. It isn’t known whether marriage leads to higher wages or, instead, men who earn higher wages are more likely to marry—or a combination of both factors.

Additional findings from the study…

Wages tend to increase with age, but they increase more for men. For members of both genders, married or single, wages tend to rise as earners approach middle age and then taper off and decline a little after around age 50. In terms of salary, young men and women start off roughly even until about their mid-20s, when men begin to pull away.

For the average man, marriage is associated with bigger paychecks even early in life. While it’s true that men and women in general tend to have comparable salaries at the beginnings of their careers in their early 20s, that doesn’t hold up when you break down earnings by relationship status. Although men tend to get married later in life than women, the study reveals that men who do tie the knot right out of the gate earn an average of just under $30,000 a year at age 20 compared with $10,000 to $15,000 a year for women and unmarried men.

For married men, salaries tend to take off while earnings stagnate for the rest. Although the average married man already earns more at the dawn of his career than his female and unmarried male colleagues, “more” becomes “much more” around the age of 25. That’s when married men dramatically pull away from the pack of women and unmarried men. In terms of salary, all workers tend to peak in their mid 40s. For married men, according to the study, that peak tops out at just under $90,000 a year. For single men and women, both married and unmarried, average earnings crest at just over $50,000 at roughly the same age.

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