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Marriage in Obsolescence
It's a shocking claim, but is it true?
According to recent media reports, the institution of marriage is dying, especially among the poor and lower educated. At the same time, child-bearing and cohabitation are rising dramatically among the 20- and 30-something age groups. More children are living with unmarried parents than ever before.
All of these details are true and more can be found in a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
In response, Thursday's USA Today framed the front-page story with a disturbing headline:
We're Just Not That Into Marriage: Survey reveals declining interest
A good headline will often tell readers the whole story, but a misleading one can sometimes tell more about the person who is telling it—or the culture in which it is being told—than about the substance of the story itself.
To be fair, marriage and family trends have been headed in the wrong direction for some time. From a family- and marital-health perspective, almost every positive indicator that should be up is down and nearly every one that should be down is up. Only the divorce rate has stabilized, which isn't saying too much given that it's close to 40 percent.
Still, to suggest that marriage is on the verge of obsolescence doesn't quite square with the opinions of the very people who account for its future standing.
According to the Pew survey, 60 percent of American adults currently living with a significant other and not yet married desire to eventually wed. Conversely, only 16% of these individuals express no interest at all in tying the knot. In fact, Pew's data shows that more want to marry today than did in 2007.
Put bluntly and more colorfully, more Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth (18 percent) than ...1