Are women giving up on marriage? Jeff Jacoby January 22, 2007

Did you know that a majority of American women now live without husbands? I didn’t either, but last week the New York Times announced it on Page 1: “51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse.”

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Well, maybe. Or maybe not. For when you try to pin down the numbers, Roberts’s startling finding turns out to depend on some awfully strained definitions.

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4 thoughts on “Are women giving up on marriage?

  1. We shouldn’t ignore the impact of economic forces on ability to marry and the subsequent success of failure of the marriage.

    But when it comes to marriage, the two Americas aren’t divided by gender. And it’s not the career girls on the losing end. It’s their less educated manicurists or housekeepers, women who might arguably be less able to live on their own.

    The emerging gulf is instead one of class — what demographers, sociologists and those who study the often depressing statistics about the wedded state call a “marriage gap” between the well-off and the less so.

    .. Maybe in the past, a man with little education nevertheless had a good-paying manufacturing job, with a health care and pension plan. He was a catch and represented stability.

    Today, it may be hyperbolic to talk about the emasculation of the blue-collar man. But it is not only liberals concerned with the wealth gap who are watching these national trends with alarm. Social and religious conservatives have called on society to do more to address economic strains faced by this class.

    “Marriage is more difficult today than it was in the past,” Mr. Popenoe said. “The people who excel in one area probably excel in that area, too. And people who are high school dropouts probably have a higher propensity to drop out of marriage.”

    The last 30 years have seen a huge shift in educated women’s attitudes about divorce. Mr. Martin, who has written about women and divorce, said that three decades ago, about 30 percent of women who had graduated from college said it should be harder to get a divorce. Now, about 65 percent say so, he said.

    But for less educated women and for men, the numbers have not changed; only 40 percent — a minority — say it should be harder to get a divorce.

    “The way we used to look at marriage was that if women were highly educated, they had higher earning power, they were more culturally liberal and people might have predicted less marriage among them,” Mr. Martin said. “What’s becoming more powerful is the idea that economic resources are conducive to stable marriages. Women who have more money or the potential for more money are married to men who have more stable income.”

    Why Are There So Many Single Americans? , NY Times, January 21, 2007

  2. Few issues are more important to religious conservatives, and rightly so, then the well-being of the Family. Former Vice President Dan Qayle’s concern regarding single-parenthood, (and fictional TV character Murphy Brown) have been validated by every statistic – single-parents have a harder time all around.

    My question to religious conservatives is at what point do they feel government should step into address economic issues having a negative impact on family stability. If lack of health insurance or job stability are impediments to marriage for millions of Americans isn’t there a benefit to having government address these issues? If parents are unable to spend time with their children because they have to work two jobs shouldn’t the government do more to stimualte wage growth?

    I get the feeling that some religious consevatives believe that if people just pray hard enough and lead moral lives everything will resolve itself. Faith may provide greater resiliency against adverse economic events, but meanwhile the number of jobs being outsourced overseas continues to grow, while the jobs with health insurance benefits continue to drop.

  3. Note 2. Dean writes:

    I get the feeling that some religious consevatives believe that if people just pray hard enough and lead moral lives everything will resolve itself.

    No, that’s not it. The problem is liberal/progressive policies that make the end much worse than the beginning. Their record on welfare, education, directing American policy towards abortion and eugenics in third world countries, the attempted Hillary Care, etc. etc. is what causes the distrust. Social conservatives draw a distinction between rhetoric and policy, and thus are not moved by the rhetoric because they don’t trust the policy. In short, they don’t want Kennedy, Clinton, Boxer, making health care decisions for the entire nation.

    Social conservatives believe that American health care should not follow Canada’s or England’s failed experiment. They see liberals/progressives as having a high tolerance for social engineering as long as someone else pays the price. It works a lot like school choice. Liberals won’t allow school choice in Washington, DC but send their own children to private schools. Would they relegate the poor to lower quality in health care if their nationalized health care plans are realized? Probably.

  4. So then, what does conservatism have to offer working families under growing economic stress? How does conservatism address the economic impediments to marriage and family formation?

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