Sometimes economists can see the trees of marginal individual advantage, but miss the forest of the human costs that seeking individual advantage imposes on others. A case is point is a new study by Penn economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson reported in the New York Times. Wolfers and Stevenson report approvingly that weakening marriage means that individuals don't lose so much if their "investment" doesn't bring all the rewards they wanted. They report that no-fault divorce has produced less committed marriages. They also calculate that no-fault also makes it 6 percent less likely that a couple will have a child. Overall, marriage rates are down.
Wolfers and Stevenson, themselves an unmarried and (I believe) childless couple, do not see these developments as weakening society, but as strengthening individuals in getting what they want.