Are U.S. marriages on the decline?
According to Pew Research’s survey regarding this demographic trend…apparently the answer is yes:
A new “marriage gap” in the United States is increasingly aligned with a growing income gap. Marriage, while declining among all groups, remains the norm for adults with a college education and good income but is now markedly less prevalent among those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. The survey finds that those in this less-advantaged group are as likely as others to want to marry, but they place a higher premium on economic security as a condition for marriage. This is a bar that many may not meet.
The survey also finds striking differences by generation. In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% were. How many of today’s youth will eventually marry is an open question. For now, the survey finds that the young are much more inclined than their elders to view cohabitation without marriage and other new family forms — such as same sex marriage and interracial marriage — in a positive light.
Even as marriage shrinks, family— in all its emerging varieties — remains resilient. The survey finds that Americans have an expansive definition of what constitutes a family. And the vast majority of adults consider their own family to be the most important, most satisfying element of their lives.
Perhaps because of our varied demographics, it appears we Americans have our own colorful view of what constitutes a family.
In more traditional societies it means being married and the marriage is between a man and a woman. Of course today’s newlines have shown, that too is changing. For the betterment of society as a whole, that’s ones own personal judgement.
In regards to socioeconomic status, it is of no surprise to see that attaining marriage is not a high priority for the “less-advantaged” groups. This trend has been going on for many years but seems more pronounced since the 1980’s (my personal opinion).
Couple all this with modern technology and the ease of seeking out affairs, porn, etc….it’s a wonder we still have people wanting to get married. The study shows there is now a trend towards cohabitation and leaving the martial institution in the background. People want to play house but not be emotionally, financially, or contractually obligated towards each other for the long-term. There’s always “a way out.”
No matter what one thinks about the institution’s future, there’s no getting around its stark contraction during the past half century. Some 72% of all adults in the United States were married in 1960. By 2008, just 52% were.
If this downward spiral continues perhaps the institution of marriage will become an archaic practice to look fondly upon, or derisively.