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Nollmann, Gerd

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Die Welt - Germany | 12/09/2008

Marrying makes you poor

Die Welt newspaper argues that the growing inequalities between rich and poor are not the result of globalisation but of who people choose as their spouses: "According to two of the most popular theories, it is globalisation and the related shift in power relations between 'above' and 'below' that are making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. Both scenarios have their intellectual and political charm. Ubiquitous globalisation is one of the favourite suspects. Ever since the 1980s, this way of thinking has above all served one goal both in business and politics: letting uninspired and overtaxed politicians off the hook. If globalism is given the responsibility, people may assume the real problem lies abroad. That makes it easy to place collective blame - a real advantage in the clubbing and stabbing world of politics. ... Nevertheless it has long been shown that both diagnoses are false. In fact our problems are home made, and do not even result from the hierarchy of bosses and subordinates. Rather, in all modern countries the real challenges are posed by the ongoing transition from an industrial to a service-oriented society. ... Today a female economist working at a bank is ever more likely to marry a male computer scientist working at a software company. And a retail saleswoman is increasingly likely to live with a male nurse. Of course if she is a single mother she will fall under the poverty line almost as a matter of course. Couples thus have not only a matching level of education, but also matching salaries, and this causes the gap between rich and poor households to grow even faster."

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