There’s not only a wage gap in the US, there’s also a "marriage gap." In a striking reversal of historic trends, highly educated Americans are embracing a pro-marriage mindset even as Middle Americans are losing faith in marriage. Drawing on the latest national data, a new report concludes that marriage is in trouble among so-called "Middle Americans," defined as the 58% of adults who have a high school diploma and possibly some post-secondary education, but no four-year college degree. New data indicate that trends in single parenthood, divorce and marital quality in Middle America increasingly resemble those of the poor, many marriages are fragile. However, among the highly educated and affluent, marriage is stable and appears to be getting even stronger.
A recent survey shows that four in 10 Americans think marriage is obsolete–an 11% increase from the last time the same survey was done, in 1978. Young people are leading this reformation: 44% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 think the institution is obsolete, compared to 32% of those 65 and older.
In the December 6th edition of the New York Times, Ross Douthat writes, "This means that a culture war that’s often seen as a clash between liberal elites and a conservative middle America looks more and more like a conflict within the educated class–pitting Wheaton and Baylor against Brown and Bard, Redeemer Presbyterian Church against the 92nd Street Y, C. S. Lewis devotees against the Philip Pullman fan club. But as religious conservatives have climbed the educational ladder, American churches seem to be having trouble reaching the people left behind. This is bad news for both Christianity and the country. The reinforcing bonds of strong families and strong religious communities have been crucial to working-class prosperity in America. Yet today, no religious body seems equipped to play the kind of stabilizing role in the lives of the ‘moderately educated middle’ (let alone among high school dropouts) that the early-20th-century Catholic Church played among the ethnic working class."
In ABC News, Jessica Hopper quotes sociologist Andrew Cherlin as saying, "Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn’t dominate family life like it used to." Or as Douthat says, "The long-running culture war arguments about how to structure family life (Should marriage be reserved for heterosexuals? Is abstinence or ‘safe sex’ the most responsible way to navigate the premarital landscape?) look increasingly irrelevant further down the educational ladder, where sex and child-rearing often take place in the absence of any social structures at all. This, in turn, may be remembered as the great tragedy of the culture war: While college-educated Americans battle over what marriage should mean, much of the country may be abandoning the institution entirely."
One institution people are NOT abandoning is our wonderful new website and delightful radio shows! But our pockets are not as full as they should be, because not enough of you are willing to fork over the small amount it take to subscribe and make sure we’re here tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, married or not, you probably have a lot of people to buy Christmas presents for, and if you’re looking for something UNIQUE and AFFORDABLE, give people our delightful 2011 crop circle calendars! (This is the only place in the US where you can get them).