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  • Family Fact of the Week: Fewer Americans Are Marrying

    A new study released by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday shows that the percentage of married adults has fallen to a record low. According to the report, just 51 percent of Americans are currently married, compared to more than 70 percent of adults 50 years ago. This continued decline of marriage in America, especially among the middle class, signals troublesome news for the health of civil society.

    As shown on newly updated charts on Heritage’s FamilyFacts.org, marriage rates in the U.S. have fallen precipitously over the past six decades. The decline of marriage is especially prominent among America’s young adults. Today, only about one-third of men and less than one-half of women marry before their 25th birthday. A generation ago, roughly two-thirds of men and three-fourths of women had married by the same age. As a just-updated FamilyFacts.org chart demonstrates, the median age at first marriage has hit record highs. For women in the U.S., it is nearly 27, and for men it’s almost 29.

    Unfortunately, the increasing number of Americans exchanging the commitment of marriage for the loose bonds of cohabitation or abandoning matrimony altogether means fewer men and women enjoy the institution’s many economic and social benefits. As research demonstrates, married men and women experience greater financial health, increased savings, and greater social mobility than their unmarried peers. Marriage is even related to better psychological and physical health.

    Men and women who forgo marital vows aren’t the only ones missing out on the security and benefits of marriage. Children raised in married-parent families have a greater chance of experiencing economic stability, high academic performance, and emotional maturity. Likewise, children living under the promise of marital commitment are six times less likely to experience poverty and can display the positive social effects of having both parents in the home, potentially avoiding the many hindrances to social mobility that tend to plague children raised in single-parent households.

    America’s collective move away from marriage could also signal trouble for civil society. With more than 40 percent of children now born outside of marriage, millions of children are at risk of experiencing the financial and social challenges facing single-parent households. The unmarried birth rate is high among young, undereducated women, and single-mother households now comprise more than half of all families living in poverty. Without the relative economic stability marriage can provide, single parents and their children are at greater risk of government dependence. In 2010 alone, federal and state spending on means-tested welfare for single-parent families totaled $300 billion.

    Given the profound impact of married families on adult and child well-being, efforts to encourage and strengthen marriage are urgently needed. Fortunately, there are ways that national leaders and policymakers can promote the benefits of matrimony and help restore a culture of marriage in America. By ending marriage penalties and supporting community initiatives that promote the benefits of lifelong married love, national leaders can help stem the decline of marriage in the United States.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Family Fact of the Week: Fewer Americans Are Marrying

    1. Philip Cohen says:

      Starting charts on marriage at 1950 is misleading. The 1950s weren't the "traditional" family, but an anomalous period with very high marriage rates and low age at marriage. See the longer trend here: http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/

    2. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Education has been corrupted by progressivism for many years. Accepting diversity and alternative life-styles should not mean a capitulation of the our cultural foundations that made America great. As long as we, as a society, accept lifer politicians who sell their personal values for election and re-election we will be subject to a society of declining civility. By the way, many of these lifers are supported by Heritage.

    3. Pat K. says:

      I have researched this subject extensively, and have seen this trend coming for quite some time now. Personally, it grieves me that family and friends have fallen into the trap of believing marriage doesn't matter. They live in a constant state of lack and are confused as to the reason.

      My husband and I are to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in less than a week. Our lives do not reflect the lack that our friends and families do. We love one another deeply, own our home and vehicles, have an honor student, teen-aged daughter who loves her family, church and has been playing classical violin for 9 years (and has no behavior problems). This child will reach her educational and career goals. Our marriage is the bridge she's walking across to a good and prosperous life.

      Our lives have has been abundantly blessed through the vehicle of marriage. There is no doubt in my mind that marriage matters!

    4. Sarah says:

      Pat K., I'm glad your marriage is happy, but the reality is that many (most?) are not. My generation grew up seeing this: many of our parents are divorced (often multiple times), and nearly everyone my age has divorced couples in their families. Half of my school friends had divorced parents. Almost all the married couples in my family are seriously unhappy, and the same is true for many of my friends. Given the terrible example of our parents' generation (the Baby Boomers), how can we be expected to be enthusiastic at the prospect of pledging our lives to someone, and potentially making the same mistake? It's no wonder so many of us are reluctant to wed.

      When the Baby Boomers decided that their temporary wants overrode their children's (and their own) permanent needs, they ensured the decline of marriage in the U.S.. The aversion of young adults to matrimony is a direct result of their own selfishness. Middle-aged adults who lament the falling marriage rates might want to reflect on how their own choices have affected future generations.

      • LevinFan says:

        Divorce is painful, unmet expectations are painful – whether from parents or siblings or other loved ones. Personally, I choose not to be a victim.

        "Bad things happen, but you can still live." And the way to really live is through a vibrant faith, knowing that God sees my life, He cares and He desires the best for His children. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uOVjeIel68

      • Pat K. says:

        In my first post, I mention that there is divorce (or lack of marriage) on both my husband's and my side of the family. We share the same story as you, but we decided that we had to break this cycle. My parent's divorced and his parents never married.

        The key to breaking the cycle of divorce is to deal with issues of me-ism and selfishness in both marital partners. We live as if our marriage is bigger than the both of us (because it is). Education in the area of marriage and family and personal work on issues is a great help. Some things require action. To borrow the line in a popular advertisement, "Just Do It!".

        As I stated in the previous post, our daughter's life is different, and her future will be different because of the choice we made to love one another enough to cause the marriage to be a happy one.

    5. NotAgainInThisLife says:

      Church and religion are the key to a happy marital relationship. It also takes two people to believe what their faith advocates. I'm in my second marriage. My first fell apart because of religious differences. My mistake because I should have know better. Current marriage is in state of disrepair when my other half decided she no longer needed to attend church or have religion in her life. I see now that this current marriage will soon end because of our differences. I'm all out of options. After 20 years, it's either her way or the hiway. All I can tell you is I'll never do it again. I also do not recommend marriage any longer to anyone contemplating marriage. It's much better to make your own life and live alone. The laws today are also not conducive to marriage and I just don't see any advantage to being married. There still is a marriage penalty as far as taxation is concerned. Speaking of laws, just look at the results of a typical divorce nowadays where one spouse can be forced into paying for the other spouse for life. Oh yeah, that's a good incentive to be married for twenty years or more………yeah right!

      • Philip says:

        That's correct, being aligned on religion helps. My wife and I are both atheists, happily married for 9 years, together for 17 years, hate being apart, enjoy healthy sex life, travel togetherextensively, and now bringing up a happy active 3 year old.

        Three other couples that are close friends and have all been happily married now for around 10 years are also atheists. The rest of our happily married friends happen to be socially liberal Christians.

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