Is Marriage Still Important These Days?
The good news? The American divorce rate fell by 16% in the 10 years 2008-16, to around 42% The bad news? That is largely attributable to the decline in the number of marriages, and that whilst in the past marriage was a classless institution, economics is paying an increasingly larger role in determining which sectors of the population get and remain married. People are still getting divorced at the rate of 13 divorces every second
According to 2016 research from the Brookings Institute, 75% of women in their early 40s with bachelor’s degrees are married while just over 50%f of women with a high school degree or less are married at the same age. 50 years ago, there was little or no difference. If you also note from the CDC that less 10 percent of women with college degrees are unmarried by the time they give birth, compared to more than 60% of women with a high school degree, then it seems clear that less importance seems to be placed on wedlock than the dire economic straits in which many single people find themselves.
So given these sobering facts, which seem to cast doubts upon importance of marriage, where does the institution of marriage stand in relation to modern society?
Do people still like to get married…and stay married?
Although the divorce rate has dropped, divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled in the past 20 years, according to research by Bowling Green State University.
Interestingly, at the same time maybe there is hope: Generation X and millennials are less likely than ever to get married, and if they do they will get married later (on average 27 years of age for women and 29 years for men). Statistics suggest that these younger people are waiting to achieve higher educational standards, and greater career and financial stability and are pickier about choosing a life partner before tying the knot.
According to research carried out by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen, for these younger people status has a telling effect on their choice to get married, he suas, “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”
In effect, the people who are getting married have more security and that is a major factor iin favor of lasting marriage success.
Against this, the less wealthy are opting for co-habitation and having children and research from the NCBI shows that economic distress, lack of jobs and opportunity is causing these co-habitation unions to break down earlier than before.
Sadly, indications are that marriage is increasingly becoming the preserve of the wealthier segments of society
What lies in the future for the institution of marriage?
That is a difficult forecast indeed, because there are many new factors coming into play:
more women are opting for careers and choosing that over marrying and having children early in their lives
religion is playing a smaller part in many people’s lives, and so the societal pressure has diminished
especially as less people are marrying, and religion is playing a smaller part in people’s choice to marry.
people are co-habiting not out of choice, and economic stress factors are causing those unions to fail
If one looks at how marriage is viewed in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, people do not see a need for marriage and successfully finally cohabit and raise well-adjusted families. At the same time in those countries there is more support and less stigma single parents who are well supported financially by the State.
Contrast the often dismal prospects for single mothers in the USA who have little support from the system in terms of child support, nutrition, housing and of course poverty, leading to more social and educational problems for their children, compared with the affluent.
Around 40% of Americans think marriage is obsolete as a concept, and do not believe it is necessary, for relationships, sex, children or to please others. In their view it not necessary. If one adds to that the economic picture of the couples who are marrying the prospects for an increase in the number of marriages are not good. We can just hope that whatever one believes there will be respect, kindness and support for couples, whomever they fall in love with and help them to create long-lasting relationships that make sustaining a family easier, rich or poor.