Protecting Your Living Standard

Pricing Love, Marriage, and Divorce

According to the old saw, economists know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Since price and value are synonyms, the real point of the saying is that economists can price materials objects, but they can’t price feelings, like love.

As a dismal scientist, I have to object. We all can and do price love and other feelings on a routine basis. Unfortunately, we have to do this when it comes to making decisions like staying married or getting divorced that involve our emotions as well as our feelings.

There's No Place Like Home For Saving Taxes

Bert and Ernie have been pals for a long time. They have the same $80K annual salary, and their employer, PBS, matches their $4K contribution to a 403(b).

They live across the street from each other on Sesame Lane and each owns his $200K Tudor-style home outright. They pay annual property taxes ($2K) and insurance ($700) on their home. Their homes are identical save for one feature: Bert gets the morning sun and Ernie gets the evening sun. Alas, their envy of each other is palpable.

Equitable Alimony

Economics can’t say what’s fair, but it can help with divorce settlements by showing who’s really getting what and how to make the best out of a bad situation. Take Frank and Stacy Loveless. Frank’s 45, Stacy’s 38. He’s a dentist, she’s a dietician. They live in Saint Louis with their two kids, ages 7 and 3. The couple met in Frank’s dentist chair a decade ago. Stacy asked him out and, boy, what a wedding and what a great marriage until, well, things changed. Their main goal now is settling their affairs without declaring war.