Thursday, October 04, 2007

U.S. Marriage Rate Lowest Ever -- But Still Above Europe

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have an interesting working paper on the "driving force" in marriage and divorce changes. Stevenson and Wolfers are the Wharton School professors who cleared up the puzzle about the erroneous Census Bureau report that most marriages don't reach their silver anniversary.

One finding that they put in stark relief is that the marriage rate in the United States is at the lowest point in recorded history. Indeed, the marriage rate peaked in 1972, and has been dropping ever since. Americans still couple at high rates, but many of them are cohabiting rather than marrying. Most cohabiters think they will marry -- but they don't.

On the other hand, "Americans marry, divorce, and remarry at rates higher than in most other countries with comparable income levels." Compared to Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden, Americans are more likely to marry and more likely to believe in marriage. For example, only 10% of Americans think marriage is an out-dated institution, versus a quarter of Britons and a third of the French.

Of course, they are facing a demographic crisis of falling birthrates, and we aren't.


Anonymous said...

Another interesting fact is that in Europe the Muslim birth rate is 3 times higher than the non-Muslim birthrate.Also the Muslim poulation there will almost double by 2015 while the non-Muslim birthrate will decline by 3.5 percent.

Fitz said...


I am grateful for your blog. It is a constant source of solid information. This latest project at Bowling Green is very encouraging (for marriage defenders)

This latest paper about marriage's overall health is also very useful.

I have a request if you have the time.

I have been searching your achieves and cannot seem to locate a post were you talk about the placement of same-sex parenting within the larger pantheon of family diversity.

I remember it as an answer to a query, were you state:

#1. research is scant on same-sex parenting.

#2. You suspected that the child outcomes would most likely resemble those of step-families. Search as I may - I want to find that post of yours but cant seem to locate it.

jledmiston said...

I think we will continue to love to be married as long as the wedding includes such a fun time -- the reception! the wedding weekend golf tournament!

I have at least one parishioner who was almost certain she was marrying "the wrong person" but she did it anyway because it was better for her - sadly - to be divorced one day than never to have been married. It would feel "like nobody had ever loved her." We seem to live in a culture where many simply have never felt treasured for who they are.

Marty said...

Man, that is sad jledmiston. The week after her wedding she could have met Mr. Right, who didn't giver her a second glance because of the ring on her finger... and they both missed out on their one best chance.

On the other hand, maybe she was wrong about the man she married and will be able to keep her vows, in the end. Although it's not very likely, in my experience. From what I've seen, those who cross their fingers when they're at the altar know exactly what the future holds for them...


Gruntled said...

Fitz, I think you were looking for "Gay Parent" Research is Full of Holes.