In an earlier post, I noted a recent poll that reflects changing American attitudes toward marriage and, in particular, reflects a marked increase in cohabitation. The other day I happened upon a Time magazine piece, “Marriage: What’s it Good For?”, which further detailed the poll. And since the ability to synthesize those results with a thoughtful analysis eludes me right now, I’ll just lay out the other findings that interested me (in no particular order):
As I noted in the previous post, cohabitation is sharply on the rise. I hadn’t realized, however, that from 2009 to 2010, pollsters found a 13 % increase in couples living together outside of marriage.
Because cohabitation is increasingly viewed as a viable option, I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise us that Americans keep waiting longer and longer to get married. The median age for men and women getting married for the first time is 28 and 26 respectively. These numbers, the poll tells us, have increased about a year for each decade since the 1960’s.
Just to situate the American trend toward cohabitation in a larger perspective, it is worth noting that, according to the poll, Americans have a rate of marriage (and remarriage) that is among the highest in the Western world.
Correspondingly, although the American divorce rate has declined substantially since 1978, it is still among the highest in the Western world.
The poll underscored the socioeconomic predictors of both marriage and divorce in some interesting ways.
It noted a strong correlation between a person’s wealth and education and the likelihood of marriage. Put simply, in the United States, the richer and more educated you are, the more likely you are to marry.
Interestingly, the poll evidenced the same correlation to the likelihood of divorce. The richer and more educated you are, the more likely you are to divorce. This is presumably why Massachusetts, a state with an educated and affluent population, consistently has the lowest divorce rate in the United States.
Most Americans, according to the poll, believe that the “best kind of marriage” is one in which both spouses work outside the home. Not surprisingly, this belief reflects the reality that, in an increasing number of marriages, both spouses do work outside the home. Of course, this figure has increased steadily over the last several decades.
Finally, the poll confirms what most divorce researchers have known for some time. Women initiate American divorce proceedings about 66% of the time. This rate, I believe, has been constant for several decades.
The most unusual finding:
The proportion of American marriages in which the woman was taller than the man increased by 10%.