Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Decline of Marriage Means We Should Build Up, Not Give Up

Philip Cohen notes the continuing marriage decline, and concludes that we should give up. Marriage, he thinks, will become irrelevant, even if it doesn't disappear.

I think this is exactly the wrong conclusion.

Marriage is coming back among the most educated, thoughtful, plan-ahead people.  There is every reason to believe that they will continue to reap the benefits that marriage has always bestowed.  In fact, as the non-marrying fraction of parents grows, the relative benefits of marriage will get even bigger.  And these benefits are not just to married families, but to society as a whole.  Especially to society as a whole.

I believe that more people will see the growing benefits of marriage, and head back to the institution.  The average person, I think, can see when one path benefits them more than another.  The most educated couples are leading the way.  But good social trends trickle down, just as bad ones sometimes do.


Camel toe said...

If marriage means everything, it means nothing.

Anonymous said...

Toe, what in the world does that mean?

toe said...

Anon, you can't reason a person out of something that they didn't reason themselves into.

Anonymous said...

Urban Institute just put out an update on the Moynihan report. I'm actually reading through it right now.

Not sure if anyone has this, but I would be interested in studies that attempt to account for the bidirectional causality of marriage and poverty.

Nate K.

gruntled said...

Nate: I had heard about the revisited Moynihan Report. Thanks for the link.

I myself think that failure to marry is a greater cause of poverty than the reverse, but I do not have a study that is exactly on point for that.

Diane M said...

Re: marriage and poverty - we know that children who are raised by unmarried and divorced parents do worse in many ways. Those ways include not finishing school which probably affects their ability to get a job and stay out of poverty.

In addition, divorce divides up resources and often leaves some children in poverty. I would assume that having your unmarried parents break up would have the same effect.

Diane M said...

Giving up on marriage is a terrible idea. I know it is hard to change society, but we have to try.

Here's the thing:

People want marriage!

We're not talking about forcing people to eat diets of bread and water. We're talking about trying to figure out a way to help people be happier - and to have what they want for themselves and their children.

Cohen just wants to give up because he associates the idea of strengthening marriage with people who cut welfare benefits.

gruntled said...


Agreed. I think Cohen also believes his opponents believe that marriage is the only legitimate form of sexual union, rather than, on the whole, the most prudent and satisfying arrangement for most people.

Diane M said...

No doubt there are people who want to limit cohabitation and sex outside of marriage as a way to prevent kids being born outside of marriage.

That doesn't mean that liberals have to oppose marriage.

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could stop being opponents on everything - if right and left could come together on ideas like promoting marriage is a good thing and then argue about how to do it!

Sean said...

You're kidding yourself. Marriage is fading away. There was a study done on younger men - I wish I could remember where i saw it - that showed record numbers of these men are NOT interested in marriage. I saw another blogger post that was probably spot on
Its the feminist mentality being promoted by the media that husbands should be treated like dirt that is driving men away from marriage. Also, the anti male family court system contributes to the problem.
I think married couples will be a small minority in about 25 years.