Late last week, the Senate approved a measure to provide financial incentives to low-income residents of the District of Columbia who get married or stay married. These “marriage development accounts” would be federally funded matching funds of $3 for every $1 invested in a savings account. For married couples, the government would invest up to $9,000, reports the Washington Post, and the program is also open to single, childless residents between the ages of 16 and 22, for a maximum $4,500 contribution. Single individuals would get a $200 bonus for marrying, and a $300 bonus for attending marital counseling.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) proposed the measure, and was quoted calling marriage a “leading poverty reducer” in the Washington Post. However, analysts doubt that the incentives will significantly influence decisions about marriage, and Washington University professor Michael Sherraden told the Washington Post “If the senator is thinking of using matched savings as an incentive for marriage, then I would say there are more important reasons to get married.”