Marriage, True Love
Marriage Less Prevalent for Lower Socioeconomic Classes
Survey data indicates the decline in US marriage rates has occurred along class lines. In 2008, a 16-percentage-point gap separated marriage rates of college graduates (64%) and of those with a high school diploma or less (48%). In 1960, this gap had been just four percentage points (76% vs. 72%).
The survey also finds that those with a high school diploma or less are just as likely as those with a college degree to say they want to marry. But they place a higher premium than college graduates (38% compared 21%) on financial stability as a very important reason to marry.
About half (52%) of all adults in this country were married in 2008; back in 1960, seven in 10 (72%) were married. In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all 20-somethings were married. In 2008, only 26% were.
4 in 10 US Adults See Marriage as Obsolete
Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents say marriage is obsolete. Those most likely to agree include those who are a part of the phenomenon (62% of cohabiting parents), as well as those most likely to be troubled by it (42% of self-described conservatives).
Public Ambivalent to Many Changing Marital Norms
The public’s response to changing marital norms and family forms reflects a mix of acceptance and unease. Overall, 34% of Americans say the growing variety of family types is a good thing, 29% say it is a bad thing, and 32% say it makes no difference. 69%, however, say the trend toward more single women having children is bad for society, and 61% say that a child needs both a mother and father to grow up happily.
On the more accepting side, only a minority say the trends toward more cohabitation without marriage (43%), more unmarried couples raising children (43%), more gay couples raising children (43%) and more people of different races marrying (14%) are bad for society. Relatively few say any of these trends are good for society, but many say they make little difference.
Divorce Risk Highest at 25
Risk of divorce is highest for married 25-year-olds, according to previous analysis of US government data by the Pew Research Center. Pew statistics indicate more than half of married 25-year-olds will divorce at some point, while 45% of 50-year-old men and 46% of 50-year-old women will eventually divorce. Of 50-year-olds who divorce, 81% of men and 71% of women will eventually remarry.