Getting hitched? Changing your name could cost you $500K

If you’re a woman, changing your last name could cost you  — up to a half mil over a lifetime. A study by an economics research institute in the Netherlands found that women who adopted their married names, even hyphenated versions, were likely to earn less than their maiden-named counterparts.

The study even put a dollar amount on how much more a maiden-named dame stands to make: $1,172.36 more per month. Over a lifetime, that could add up to $500,000 or more.

The team of researchers staged a number of social and professional scenarios in order to test perceptions of imaginary women with a last name that matched their spouse’s. LearnVest offers a run-down on the process:

The study comprised several experiments, all of which yielded the same results. First, participants were asked to imagine meeting a married couple at a party. Some met a couple introduced with the same last name, and some met the same couple introduced with different last names. When asked to rate whether the women were caring, competent, dependent, intelligent and emotional, the married-name woman was deemed more caring, dependent and emotional. The maiden-name woman was seen as more intelligent and competent.

There was also a job-interview component:

Participants saw resumes for “Roos Ellemers” with attached memos indicating that (1) she was named Fischer before marrying Dirk Ellemers, or (2) she is married to Dirk Fischer. The second set of Rooses was judged more ambitious and intelligent, was more likely to be hired and nabbed that higher monthly salary.

This article from Learnvest does a thorough job of unpacking the study as well as taking a few jabs at the experiment’s methodology and conclusions: the subject pool was Dutch students; women with professional name recognition would have more incentive to keep their names to begin with, and may already be earning more, etc. Still, fascinating stuff, and worth a read. If you still want his last name, you may be better off tattooing it somewhere (other than your face.)

[via Learnvest]

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