Saturday, May 26, 2007

The good news about marriage...bad news about living together

Sensitivity to others has often quieted me from championing marriage. A single person can have a fulfilled life. A divorced person often needed to make the break to protect children from abusiveness or themselves from a soul-damaging partner. Those who lost spouses to death grieve companionship and sometimes ache when they walk into a room full of couples sitting close together. So we mute our voice about the benefits of marriage in the desire to be compasssionate and not haughty.
But "The Economist" of May 16th has a featured article entitled "The Frayed Knot". The article contains an intriguing number of statistics compiled by researchers (all secular and academic) from around the USA. Here are some stats:
-only 4% of children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock.
-the divorec rate among college educated women who married between 1975-1979 was 29%
-the divorce rate among college educated women who married between 1990-1994 was 16.5%
-the divorce rate among high school dropouts who married between 1975-1979 was 38%
-the divorce rate among high school dropouts who married between 1990-1994 was 46%
-92% of children whose families make more than $75,000 live with both parents (and step-parents)
-20% of children whose families earn less than $15,000 live with both parents (and step-parents)
The article goes on to argue that marriage is, itself, a "wealth generating institution" because it affects the way people behave in just about every area of measurable conduct. Yet, marriage is a superior institution than cohabitation. In fact, the article gets almost preachy when it describes the outcomes of couples who choose to cohabitate. "On average, the children of co-habiting coules do worse by hearly every measure." Co-habiting relationships last on average about two years. Those who live together are more likely to divorce than those who do not. Two thirds of American children born to co-habiting parents who later marry will see their parents split up by the time they are ten. "Since no explicit commitment is made, it is easier to DRIFT into living together that it is to drift into a marriage. But once a couple is living together, it is harder to split up than if they were merely dating. So many of these men end up married to women they would not have married if they hadn't been living together.....sliding versus deciding."


At 5:54 AM , Blogger kent said...

Thanks for the heads up, it is great article.

At 6:28 PM , Blogger Ted Gossard said...

This makes all too much sense, and people need to hear it!



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