As Goes Marriage, So Goes the Health of Our Nation?

18 Jul

Not exactly new news, but a nicely written article about how a stable marriage is a predictor of longer life, happiness, economic comfort, and successful children.  Goes a long way toward explaining several of our culture’s major problems.

 From the “pen” of Jonathan Last, published on The Weekly Standard website:

 Marriage is a good thing. Not just from a romantic standpoint. Or a theological one. Marriage is demonstrably good for you. People who are married live longer, and are happier, than those who are not. Their economic outcomes tend to be better as well. If you marry, and stay married, you’re more likely to be well off, and your children are more likely to be healthy and successful.

All of which is why society has a [vested] interest in marriage.

In America (and much of the West), however, the institution of marriage has been in decline for the last 40 years. The causes for this decline are many and complex, but for today let’s put them aside and look at the effects.

What’s happened in America is that marriage has become something of a bifurcated institution: People at the high end of the social scale—the upper third in income and education—are immensely successful at marriage these days. If you finish college and have a job, your chances of getting (and staying) married remain quite high, despite the popular notion that divorce and cohabitation are de rigueur among the elites.

But on the lower two-thirds of the social scale, it’s a different story. Last weekend the New York Times ran an interesting piece on this divide. The most telling quote included is probably from Harvard sociologist Christopher Jencks. “The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t,” Jencks noted. “And the people who least need to stick together do.” .  .  . 
In 1968, 96 percent of households in the top third, and 77 percent of households in the lower third, consisted of two parents.

By 2010, the percentage for the top third dipped to 88 percent. But for the lower third? Only 41 percent of households had two parents.

And that, in a single [comparison], is the story of America’s social problems over the last two generations.

 [End of column]



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