Marriage Declines in America
by Jeff Johnston
Annual study reveals impact on families.
Since 1999, “The State of Our Unions” has been published annually, giving a picture of the health of marriage and family life in America. The 2012 report is now available online and shows cause for concern, with its focus on the decline of marriage in what it calls “Middle America — the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school, but do not have a four-year college degree.”
The authors report that 44 percent of the children born to parents in that group are now born outside of marriage.
“Marriage in Middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm,” coauthor Brad Wilcox writes.
In general, children do best when raised by their married, biological parents, so increasing the number of children born to unmarried parents causes grave concern about the next generation.
The authors offer several public policy recommendations for improving the state of marriage, including tripling the child tax credit; eliminating “disincentives” for the poor and unwed mothers; and investing in marriage and relationship education programs.