Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Importance of Marriage to Middle Income Americans

A new and devastating study on the declining marriage rates of middle income Americans was released last week and here is the transcript.

Highly-educated Americans (those with a college degree or better) have a much higher rate of marriage and the author explains why:

First, they have access to better-paying and more stable work than their less-educated peers. This is important because marriage still depends on money — especially the financial success and stable employment of men.

Second, highly educated Americans are more likely to hold the bourgeois virtues – self-control, a high regard for education, and a long-term orientation — that are crucial to maintaining a marriage in today’s cultural climate.

Third, highly educated Americans are now more likely to attend church or to be engaged in a meaningful civic organization than their less educated peers. This type of civic engagement is important because being connected to communities of memory and mutual aid increases men and women’s odds of getting and staying married.

Finally, highly educated Americans are increasingly prone to adopt a marriage mindset — marked, for instance, by an aversion to divorce and nonmarital pregnancy, and a willingness to stick it out in a marriage — that generally serves them well through the ups and downs of married life. They recognize that they and their children are more likely to thrive — and to succeed in life — if they get and stay married.

Children raised in single parent households have few resources when times are tough. Their parents are poorer--there's power in pairs--and less able to help children adjust to the adult world. And these adults are more willing and prone to accept government aid. The rise in unmarried women with children who are Democrats (who want to redistribute wealth) is not without cause.

The gay marriage debate of the last decade has taken the spotlight off this pressing issue.
Indeed, the biggest marriage story among ordinary Americans is that cohabitation is mounting a major challenge to marriage as the preferred site for childbearing and co-residence in Middle America (as well as in many poor communities). This is disturbing because children and cohabitation do not mix. Children born to cohabiting parents are at least twice as likely to see their parents break up before they turn five, and they are much more likely to suffer educational and emotional problems, compared to children born into married homes. Finally, children in cohabiting households are at least three times more likely to be physically, sexually, or emotionally abused than children in intact, married families. And yet scholars estimate that more than 40 percent of American children will spend some time as the wards of cohabiting adults (one of whom is often unrelated).