March 4, 2007


Numbers Drop for the Married With Children: Institution Becoming The Choice of the Educated, Affluent (Blaine Harden, 3/04/07, Washington Post)

Punctuating a fundamental change in American family life, married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households -- a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census.

As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.

"The culture is shifting, and marriage has almost become a luxury item, one that only the well educated and well paid are interested in," said Isabel V. Sawhill, an expert on marriage and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Marriage has declined across all income groups, but it has declined far less among couples who make the most money and have the best education. These couples are also less likely to divorce.'d almost have to conclude that alternative lifestyles were a conspiracy that the elites used to keep people poor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 4, 2007 8:22 AM

What about married couples whose children have all grown up and left home? By about age 50 your kids have probably moved out, and you still have another 25 or so years left to live. Did they take that into account in this study?

Posted by: ray at March 4, 2007 3:24 PM

There has been a conspiracy, but not a conspiracy to suppress the poor. After all, that would against the interest of the elite, who would benefit by peaceful productive masses.

The described phenomena are consistent with cultural degeneracy resulting from the secularization of so-called "public" education beginning in the late 1940's.

We are seeing the grandchildren of the demoralized continuing to lapse into critter morality in the absence of the easy yoke and the light burden. In the interest of succoring the sensibilities of religious minorities, perverts and the occasional village athiest, we have left the many to work out on their own the ways of ordering their lives.

The elite, the most intelligent, best disciplined and best motivated can accomplish this; the majority cannot. The many, cut loose wrom the Book, follow their inclinations and exercise what they are told it is their right to "choose," seeing no reason why they may not live as free of restraint as the most abandoned celebrity.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 4, 2007 4:59 PM

There could be some creative statistics at play here, as in the recent NYT item that asserted >50% of women are not married by including girls as young as 15 in the sample.

Posted by: Gideon at March 4, 2007 6:10 PM

Lou, your last paragraph makes me think of something I realized back in the '70s: that middle- and upper-class high school and college kids could do the hippie/alternative lifestyle thing and probably come out OK, but when some poor kid tries the same things, they're much more likely to end up in jail or in poverty or dead. See also Murphy Brown: a well-off single professional woman may well be fine as a single mother, but a teenage girl in the ghetto is almost certain to have a much rougher time.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 4, 2007 8:50 PM