The State of Our Unions 2010
Among the affluent, marriage is stable and appears to be getting even stronger. Among the poor, marriage continues to be fragile and weak.
But the newest and perhaps most consequential marriage trend of our time concerns the broad center of our society, where marriage, that iconic middle-class institution, is foundering. Among Middle Americans, defined here as those with a high-school but not a (four-year) college degree, rates of nonmarital childbearing and divorce are rising, even as marital happiness is falling. This “moderately educated” middle of America constitutes a full 58 percent of the adult population. When Marriage Disappears argues that shifts in marriage mores, increases in unemployment, and declines in religious attendance are among the trends driving the retreat from marriage in Middle America. This report finds:
Marriage is an emerging dividing line between America’s moderately educated middle and those with college degrees…
FIGURE 1. Percent Chance of Divorce or Separation Within 10 Years of First Marriage, 15–44 year-old Women, by Education and Year of Marriage
FIGURE 5. Percentage of Births to Never-married* Women 15–44 Years Old, by Education and Year
FIGURE 8. Percentage of 25–60-year-olds Believing Divorce Should be More Difficult to Obtain, by Education and Decade
FIGURE 16. Percentage of 25–44-year-olds Agreeing That Marriage Has Not Worked Out for Most People They Know, by Education