Summary: In Will young men break America’s family structure? I asked a question which the comments suggest was too disturbing for many readers. Will most of today’s young men marry, as did previous generations? If not, our society will drastically change. Here are the answers readers gave.
Will the young men now in high school and college marry in their late 20’s, as men do now? I gave an introduction to this vital issue in “Will young men break America’s family structure?” Here are some additional aspects I did not mention.
Marriage was an asset for our ancestors, as children provided labor whose value exceeded their cost. That changed by the 19th century, resulting in the street children and horrific orphanages described by Dickens. Now children are raised at fantastic cost by middle class families, often paid as child support by absent dads. I doubt many today’s young men, raised with pronatalism scrubbed from their textbooks, will marry to have kids.
The other major benefits of marriage, sex and companionship, are easily available without the risks and cost of marriage. Will this thoroughly unromantic generation of young men follow the traditional patterns in a world so radically changed? Or have the pressures on the institution of marriage grown, so that it snaps (similar to punctuated equilibrium in evolution)?
My favorite response is from Lisa, whose feminist rant boils down to Men must marry the available women, under the terms women offer. Perhaps they will, but they do not have to do so. In discussions about family, people often assume that men and women have no agency — the sociology term for their ability to make independent choices. They do, and the choices they make produce the unexpected events that define history.
Several comments described the forces changing marriage — most often mentioning economics. The unstated assumption was that these forces would infallibly produce benign outcomes. This is the theory propounded in Candide by Voltaire’s Professor Pangloss, “the greatest philosopher of the Holy Roman Empire”, who said that “all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.” Unfortunately history shows otherwise.
Another group denied that such a basic institution as marriage can or would change. It is a common, but odd, opinion.
The great experiment
Seldom, perhaps never, in history has such a basic institution as the family undergone so much change, so rapidly. This amazing increase in the rate of change drastically increases the likelihood and costs of failure.
We cannot jump off this roller coaster. The last opportunity ended long ago for forethought and careful experimentation. We can remember that institutions break faster than they heal, watch without ideological blinders for problems, and respond quickly. My guess — emphasis on “guess” — is that we will learn much in the next decade. America’s fate in the 21st century might depend on the result, for the family is the foundation of society.
For More Information
See this brief analysis by Drew Istotle (@drewistotle) that comes to the same conclusion. He is the owner, producer, and screenwriter at Aesop Pictures.
- Men are “going Galt”. Marriage is dying. Will society survive?
- When marriage disappears: rising inequality as the threat to the family.
- Beckett shows our future. She chooses wisely & marries Castle, but dreams at night of her alpha ex-boyfriend.
- “Castle” shows a future of strong women & weak men. As for marriage…
- Men are abandoning the rat race, & changing American society.
- Why men are avoiding work and marriage.