I could live above the poverty line without my husband. While an extra paycheck is gravy, it is not what comforts you when times are bad or when kids grab your last nerve and hang on, or when the boss deems you expendable. Marriage is more than economics or shoring up a community.
Marriage means there is someone willing to wait out your temper tantrums, weight gain and hair loss, illnesses, job uncertainties, child-rearing woes and soul-searchings until someone recognizable returns.
I think America is very good at breaking marriage down to a science or overcovering the bad marriages in the media. I thinks this is why so many people are cynical about marriage and don't respect the people who enter into marriages.
I feel if people who are looking to get married approach it with respect, honesty, and feelings as well as social science. They would be happier about the instution of marriage.