Marriage Trouble in Middle America

Aug 8, 2012 by

A new report released by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values titled “The 2010 edition of the State of Our Unions” sheds some new light on the growing number of Middle Americans who are currently struggling with marriage problems.

The University of Virginia report covers a lot of people when defining Middle Americans as the 58% of American adults with a high school diploma and some secondary education, but without a college degree. Cutting to the chase, the report finds that the current state of marriage in the U.S. is in a reversal of past trends where higher incomes and education resulted in fewer lasting marriages than people in lower economic strata were able to sustain. Now, it seems that Americans with more education and income are accounting for more marriages while the middle and less wealthy segments of society appear to be losing faith in marriage.

The report found that shifts in attitudes, increases in unemployment and a decline in religious attendance are the main factors driving the new retreat from marriage.
As marriage appears to be stable and growing stronger among the highly educated and more affluent in the country, trends toward single-parenting and divorce in the middle class are beginning to mirror trends usually associated with the poorest segments of our society who traditionally have weaker marriages. The resulting “marriage gap” creates a situation where Americans with only moderate educations are now far more likely to get divorced than those with higher educations.

The U of VA report points to many other reversals of prior trends like the fact that back in the 70’s, highly educated Americans were not as likely to attend church as the moderately educated. Today, the trend is the opposite with 34% of highly educated Americans attending church on a weekly basis and only 28% of moderately educated Americans doing so. Similarly, the divorce rates for moderately educated Americans are now higher than those who are highly educated.

Statistics confirm that children from a married home with their own mother and father are healthier and happier than those who are not. It’s no secret that both adults and children who experience an intact, married family are more likely to succeed in school, to own a home of their own, and to experience ongoing upward mobility. Unfortunately, fewer marriages in America mean fewer Americans will be able to experience that American Dream in the future


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