What’s Driving the Marriage Divide?

Here is Rachel Sheffield writing at Public Discourse:

Although economic factors certainly play a role in the growing gap in marriage rates between higher income, college-educated Americans and those with lower levels of education and income, the impact of changing cultural mores should not be underestimated.

There is a growing marriage divide in the United States. Marriage rates among lower-income and working class Americans have declined dramatically, and unwed childbearing has become the norm. However, among college-educated Americans, marriage is doing pretty well: most marry, their unwed childbearing rate has remained nearly as low as it was five decades ago, and they are the least likely to divorce.

This marriage divide is driving a wedge through society: in the upper-income third of the population, children are raised by their married parents, who have college educations. In the rest of the population, children are often born to single mothers with a high school education or less.

Unwed childbearing has long been common among those with the lowest income levels. Only recently has it become the norm among working-class, high-school-educated Americans as well. Not only does this trend leave a large proportion of America’s children at much higher risk of poverty, it also puts children at greater risk for outcomes that make them less likely to thrive. Children raised without their married mother and father are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, abuse alcohol and drugs, and become single parents themselves.

Read more: www.publicdiscourse.com

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