Reconnecting an Unbound Generation

Here’s another possible title for this article from by Rachel Sheffield: “Why There’s Hope for Marriage in America.”

The answer to our culture’s dramatic increase in out-of-wedlock births and children raised by single parents is not to lower the bar further. Rather than promoting “planned parenting,” we should work to build a culture of marriage.

“Marriage is on the wane . . . no amount of wishful thinking will bring it back,” says Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution in her new book, Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage.

Sawhill goes on to explain the major shift in attitudes about sexual relationships since the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Marriage is no longer the foundation for sex and childbearing it once was. Marriage has declined substantially in lower-income and working-class America. With the breakdown of marriage, unwed childbearing has jumped dramatically. Today, over 40 percent of births are to single women, compared to less than 10 percent in the 1960s.

However, for certain demographics, the unwed birth rate hasn’t changed much. Ninety percent of children born to college-educated women are born to married mothers. Yet, for the other two-thirds of America, the link between marriage and childbearing has weakened substantially. Over 60 percent of births to mothers without a high school diploma and about 55 percent of births to mothers with only a high school education take place outside of marriage.

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