Pre-posting edit: Dalrock has come out with a post on the same topic while I was writing this. My take is different than Dal’s as he looks at a few different factors, whereas I’m looking at some of the roots.
This article from the NT times on marriage as a mark of privilege.
Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.
Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults ages 18 to 55 are married, according to a research brief published from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America.
In 1990, more than half of adults were married, with much less difference based on class and education: 51 percent of poor adults, 57 percent of working-class adults and 65 percent of middle- and upper-class adults were married.
A big reason for the decline: Unemployed men are less likely to be seen as marriage material.
“Women don’t want to take a risk on somebody who’s not going to be able to provide anything,” said Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell who published “Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships” with Amanda Jayne Miller last month.
As marriage has declined, though, childbearing has not, which means that more children are living in families without two parents and the resources they bring.
In the article, they make the case that these are the reasons for the decline in marriage among the poor(er).
- Unemployed men/Economy — less providers
- Education — those with college degrees are more likely to be forward thinking and delay child birthing, whereas poorer people are more likely to cohabitate and have out of wedlock children
- Economy — automation killing jobs, bad economy increases bad moral values such as alcoholism and addiction to drugs due to unemployment
- Collateral: Men feel it’s important to be a provider
- Collateral: Women see divorce and realize that they need to be able to support themselves
- Debate — left says economic, right says cultural values; article says it’s both
Marriage, in general, is not a mark of so-called “privilege.”
I don’t think the elites really care what happens to marriage all that much because they don’t believe there’s any inherent value to it. Most of the elite of the elite — those rich enough to afford housekeepers, nannies, cooks, and so on — don’t give a crap about “providership” or “protectorship” or “leadership” or any of the other Biblical components of marriage AND they don’t care about the ‘secular’ reasons for marriage either. They can just throw money at problems to make them go away, so why would they care about what other people are doing in the first place?
In general, they’re more concerned about preserving their way of life, which means lobbying for laws that support increasing their wealth, power, or status. Marriage doesn’t have much to do in that circle, except for a few where marriage helps out in terms of say politics. The rest can just marry and divorce and they won’t even take a huge hit even if they get taken for 50% divorce at the cleaners. They can remarry anyway if need be, and there’s always enough women clamoring to be a trophy wife.
Overall, the elites only participate when it’s in their best interest.
The article did not go into other incentives to avoid marriage such as:
- Feminism — Wives power grabbing in marriage
- Feminism — Divorce rape. Men being taken to the cleaners in marriage for 50% of everything AND the children
- Feminism — Disrespect for husbands and fathers
- Feminism — Women being pushed to be like men in the workplace and at home
- Feminism — Women pushed to be independent. Doesn’t work for marriages.
- Feminism — Feminism – encouraging female sexual immorality especially by promoting contraception and abortion.
- Lack of fatherhood leading to broken homes and poorer outcomes
Of course, no tradcon or leftist is going to criticize feminism, so not surprised at all.
In general, no one is going to have high commitment toward something they see as a terrible deal for themselves. There’s very little secular incentives toward marriage. Additionally, the Church is not holding up the standards of the Scripture to give Christian men and women the proper incentives toward it as well.
Marriage works because it’s beautiful when it’s modeled after Christ and the Church (morally, economically, functionally, etc.). Another problem is that there are virtually no marriages like that anymore: the only thing left is sinfulness, ugliness, and brokenness. It’s no surprise that most people are opting out, but they are only perpetuating the downward spiral with cohabitation, out of wedlock births, and fatherlessness.