Monday, May 11, 2015

Only the Wealthy Say "I Do"

Today in America, the percentage of people who get married is on the decline. Wendy Wang, a researcher of American families, says that almost half of the people between the ages 24 and 35 have never been married. The percentage of children who live in single-parent homes has "nearly doubled since 1960" according to data from the 2010 Census.
This graph shows that since 1960, the percentage of Americans over 18 who are married has decreased by 20 percent, while the percentage who have never been married or who are divorced has increased significantly.

Many people have been trying to hypothesize why the marital rate is on the decline. One possible reason for this is the idea that only the wealthy get married, as we discussed in class.

According to Allison Linn, "people with a college degree have become more likely to get - and stay - married than their less educated counterparts, and those who stay married also tend to be much wealthier than unmarried adults." People who attend college are usually members of the upper class, for only two out of five Americans of working age have a college degree. This statistics shows most Americans do not have a college degree, and this is perhaps as a result of the high tuition costs. With limited financial aid available, most people who attend college are upper class, and according to Linn, these are the people who are most likely to get married.

Society has a definition of someone who is "marriage material". Susan Brown, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, defines someone who is "marriage material" as someone who has "already met certain financial milestones, such as going to college or having a good, stable job." This definition, in many ways, is simply code for someone who is a member of the middle or upper class. Someone who has "met financial milestones" is someone who is well-off money wise and can live comfortably, both of which are characteristics of these two classes. Someone who is struggling with money and part of the lower class is simply not seen as "marriage material" according to society's definition.

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