Marriage in the United States is fast becoming obsolete per results from a TIME magazine and Pew Research Center survey.
Researchers conducted a nationwide poll on the issue of matrimony requiring respondents to identify their expectations regarding marriage, state why they enter committed relationships, and source what the "new" American family is built upon. The results of the study were startling as, in the course of two generations, people have moved away from marriage. The study compared data from a 1960s study to results from the Fall 2010 study. Researchers found that in 1960, 70% of U.S. citizens were married, versus only approximately only 35% of U.S. couples today are. Researchers also found that during the 1960s, two thirds of people in their twenties were married, whereas only 26% of twenty-somethings are married now.
Researchers found socioeconomic and educational levels play a huge factor in mate selection. Couples now chose partners with equal earnings and degrees, with 62% of today's couples reporting the happiest unions are those in which both the husband and wife worked. Conversely, as women's rising earnings increase, the study found they often walk away from marriages that don't make them happy, with 2/3 of all divorces filed by wives. The study also found that the median age of men marrying for the first time is 28.2 years, for women it's 26.1 years with an age increase of one year for every decade since the 1960s poll. As the gap between socio-economic class grows, dramatic changes in marriage have changed. In 1960, the median household income for married adults was 12% higher than that of single adults. By 2008, the disparity climbed to 41%. This difference allowed researchers to conclude that the more wealthy and educated people are, the more likely you are to marry. The study found that wealth played a huge role in an adult's likelihood of marrying and opened questions regarding whom marriage best serves, how marriage affects parenting, and how marriage changes social structures. Marriage today is not nearly as practical as it used to be in terms of social, economic, spiritual, and symbolic appeal. Researchers found that Americans have restructured their ideals regarding marriage and among Western countries, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of marriage and remarriage and one of the highest divorce rates. The Pew and TIME study found the rate of divorce has leveled off somewhat among couples with college degrees, but also determined a rise in break ups among couples at lower socioeconomic levels because they can not afford a divorce.
The Pew survey also found that 46% of all college graduates have the desire to get married, with 44% of the lesser educated wanting to. Cohabitation has grown with a rapid, 13% increase between 2009 and 2010 with researchers crediting the recession, job losses, and troubled economy as the reason behind the surprising rise. More than half of U.S. citizens think that living together is a good idea per findings of the survey. Researchers also found that most lower income couples are postponing marriage because they don't have the money but are still having children whereas conversely higher educated couples cohabitate to "warm up" before marriage, though 3/4 of the survey respondents stated childbearing is best when the couple is married. In 2008, 41% of babies born in the U.S. were to single mothers, in an eightfold increase since 1950 with an astounding 25% of children being raised in a single parent home, a number which has tripled since the 1960s, with more than half of the children resulting from parents who were living together and 30% romantically involved but living under separate roofs. Unwed mothers polled at the time of their baby's birth were optimistic regarding marrying their baby's father with 50% or more stating they thought there chances of marrying were good. Only 16% of the women had done so after 5 years with only 20% of the unwed parents still living together. The study predicts that 21% of American children will see at least 2 live in partners with their mothers by their mid teens. Europeans take the lead in terms of long term, child rearing, co-habitating relationships with the study finding that a child in Sweden has a decreased likelihood of his family separating than a child in the U.S. living with married parents.
The Pew and Time poll also revealed that 40% of Americans feel marriage is largely unnecessary but yet are surprisingly optimistic regarding American families. The $40 billion dollar wedding industry, a dramatic increase of dating sites, tremendous media portrayals of soul mate dating games, the rise of prenuptial agreements, and even the advent of divorce insurance indicates big changes for the future of relationships. People still value and respect marriage with seventy percent of the respondents to the poll stating they had been married at least once and many more looking forward to marriage in their future.
For more: Pew