Economists have long argued that marriage rates are lower in poorer and less well-educated areas because men in those communities aren't good financial bets. Without steady incomes, they can't reliably contribute to a household, so while women might have children with them, they won't commit to men for life. That's been the assumption, anyway.
Fracking booms gave two researchers in the Economics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, a perfect chance to test the hypothesis. What happens when money pours into a place, enriching the men, specifically, and giving them good jobs? More of them will get married, right?
As they discovered, to their surprise, the answer is no.
Melissa S. Kearney and Riley Wilson published their findings in a new paper covered by the Washington Post that concludes, "there is no evidence of an increase in marriage rates. The pattern of results is consistent with positive income effects on births, but no associated increase in marriage."
In other words, fracking money made more men dad-material, but it didn't make them husband-material.