Thursday, December 15, 2011

Marriage rate drops. Signs of big social problems if continues.

For many the drop in marriage rates to all time lows is not a big deal. Even relevant to their lives. If they're married so what? If they're single and don't want to be married, it's again so what? Who cares?

Pew Research Center analysis of census data finds:
Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.

The Pew Research analysis also finds that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that may or may not be related to the sour economy...

In the United States, the declines have occurred among all age groups, but are most dramatic among young adults. Today, just 20% of adults ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59% in 1960. Over the course of the past 50 years, the median age at first marriage has risen by about six years for both men and women.

It is not yet known whether today’s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it. Even at a time when barely half of the adult population is married, a much higher share— 72%—have been married at least once. However, this “ever married” share is down from 85% in 1960.

Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, according to a Pew Research survey in 2010.1 Yet the same survey found that most people who have never married (61%) would like to do so someday.
Why is this a big deal, more people not getting married? For one it will mean fewer children who are the next generation. Fewer people will have enormous implications for the economic health of society.

Marriage also has a "civilizing" influence on people, men in particular. It channels one's energies in productive activities and enterprises. (That's doesn't mean all single people are "uncivilized". But men, as George Gilder points out in his book, "Men and Marriage", are more productive and do much better when married.)

It means, to some degree, cohabitation is more common. These relationships are less healthy on the whole than married relationships.

And as marriage becomes less practiced and is viewed as obsolete, it won't be held in high esteem by the broader culture which will only worsen the trend.

Marriage and family are the foundation of society. When they breakdown, broader society will as well.

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