Monday, March 05, 2007

Assortative Mating - The New Marriage Trend

Well the fundies were right, marriage as an institution is in trouble. According to census records, fewer than one in four households in the United States are comprised of married couples with children. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, marriage is now the province of the affluent and educated, whereas, the poor and working class tend to have children out of wedlock and avoid marriage altogether.
"We seem to be reverting to a much older pattern, when elites marry and a great many others live together and have kids," said Peter Francese, demographic trends analyst for Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising firm.

In recent years, the marrying kind have been empowered by college degrees and bankrolled by dual incomes. They are also older and choosier. College-educated men and women are increasingly less likely to "marry down" -- that is, to choose mates who have less education and professional standing than they do.

According to University of Michigan sociology professor Pamela Smock, class status is a good predictor of whether two people will marry or cohabit.
"The poor aren't entering into marriage very much at all," said Smock, who has interviewed more than 100 cohabitating couples. She said young people from these backgrounds often do not think they can afford marriage.

Others are put off by their own parent's marital problems.
Victoria Miller and Cameron Roach, who have been living together for 18 months, are two such people, and they say they cannot imagine getting married. . . . Together, they earn less than $20,000 a year and are living with Roach's father. They cannot afford to live anywhere else.

"Marriage ruins life," Roach said. "I saw how much my parents fought. I saw how miserable they made each other."

Miller, who was pressured by her Mormon parents to marry when she was 17 and pregnant, said her short, failed marriage and her parents' long, failed marriage have convinced her that the institution is often bad for children. Shuttled between her mom and dad, she moved eight times before she was 16.

"With my parents, when their marriage started breaking down, my dad started to have trouble at work and we spent years on government assistance," Miller said.

So what is to be done? Can same-sex nuptuals save marriage from its decades-long slide into an elitist institution?


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