NPR has produced a lot of coverage about the institution of marriage this month. First up, a broad sociological study on how marriage is becoming obsolete. Among the findings, this shocking statistic:
Half a century ago, nearly 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were married. Today, it’s just 20 percent. But the Pew report finds fewer married people across all age groups.
We’ve also learned that unemployment increases the risk of violence and lowers the possibility of divorce:
Simultaneously, a new paper in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy shows that as unemployment rises, the divorce rate goes down: For every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, the divorce rate goes down by 1 percent.
Weekend Edition elaborates on these findings. One of the interesting and unfortunate implications of this:
[Social scientists] worry that, you know, we have this, now, inequality in marriage. And is that then is going to exacerbate inequality in the next generation? As the next college-educated Americans have children, bring them up in these very, you know, nuclear family homes, their children, studies would suggest, have a greater chance of themselves going on to college and then being high achievers. Whereas children raised in homes where the parents are not married, while there may be many happy such relationships and the children will be just fine, on average, they have much poorer outcomes. They’re less likely to go to college. And so there’s a concern that you’re going to exacerbate this inequality.
It’s fascinating (and maybe a little frightening?) that we’ll soon have a generation for whom marriage is obsolete.