Summary: Marriage, the foundation of American society, is washing away. A new society arises on the ruins of the old. Scientists study this process, but don’t want to admit its radical nature. No alarms. Let the great social experiment run its course, with us as lab rats!
The secret of establishing a new state is to maintain the forms of the old.
— Tacitus in his Histories.
Important news about America’s changing family structure
The recent decline in divorce rates receives much applause by journalists who ignore the real – and darker – story. The following article states the facts far more clearly than most such articles. But the article buries the lede, with the big conclusion in the last paragraph – giving a different message than that in the rest of the article.
By Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic.
“What’s changed isn’t marriage, but the types of people who are likeliest to get married.”
“In the past 10 years, the percentage of American marriages that end in divorce has fallen, and in a new paper, the University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen quantified the drop-off: Between 2008 and 2016, the divorce rate declined by 18% overall.
“After accounting for the rising average age of married Americans and other demographic shifts during that time, Cohen found “a less steep decline – 8% – but the pattern is the same.” That is, the divorce rate in 2016 was still lower than one would have predicted if the demographics of married people were the same then as in 2008.
“When I asked Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, how to make sense of this trend, he opened his explanation with something of a koan: “In order to get divorced,” he said, “you have to get married first. …
“So, looking at married couples alone doesn’t capture the true nature of American partnerships today. “If you were to include cohabiting relationships [in addition to marriages], the breakup rates for young adults have probably not been going down,” Cherlin says. In other words: Yes, divorce rates are declining. But that’s more a reflection of who’s getting married than of the stability of any given American couple.”
Prof Cherlin is correct about the rapid decline in marriage rates (see the numbers at America begins its post-marriage experiment). His conclusion is certainly false. Break-up rates among cohabitating couples are much higher than divorce rates. So young people cohabitating instead of marrying will increase break-up rates. But that experts at least see the trend is progress, even if they don’t yet see its obvious effects.
The shift from marriage to cohabitation is one of the biggest events in US history. Breakup rates increase, and child support by the State replaces marriage (i.e., either extracting funds from fathers or payments by taxpayers). See the trend in this graphic from “Marriage and Cohabitation Experiences Among Young Adults” by Esther Lamidi and Wendy D. Manning of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (2016). Their paper provides a wealth of data about this momentous trend.
What is the difference between marriage and cohabitation?
After moving in together in the next five years roughly 50% marry, 40% split up, and 10% continue to live together without getting married. Cohabitation does not decrease the odds of divorce in a subsequent marriage (age is more important factor).
Cohabiting couples had a separation rate five times that of married couples and a reconciliation rate that was one-third that of married couples. Cohabiting couples are more likely to experience infidelity. Some studies show that cohabiting couples have poorer relationship quality, with more fighting and lower reported happiness.
The effects of all this on the children raised amidst this chaos is easy to imagine and unpleasant to contemplate. I doubt it is good for the men and women involved. As for America, families have been the foundation of our success. We have thrived as a nation that is a community of families. Destroying America’s families is another step on our Highway to Hell.
More detailed examination of these trends
No matter how bad you believe the situation, research shows it is worse. Scientists have begun to focus not just on the rates of marriage and divorce, but also on the more important rates of cohabitation (whether married or not) and break-ups. For example, the first only glancingly sees the bigger picture. The second is a look at the key issue, with others listed below.
By Philip N. Cohen (prof of sociology, U of Maryland at College Park).
Submitted for the 2019 Population Association of America meetings.
“This paper analyzes the odds of divorce from 2008 to 2016 …. I find that the falling observed divorce rates over the last decade are apparent in the fully adjusted model as well. Further, age specific divorce rates show that the trend in the last decade has been driven by younger women (despite higher divorce rates among older women than in the past). …Marriage is become more selective, and more stable, even as attitudes toward divorce are becoming more permissive, and cohabitation has grown less stable.
“I …identify trends that portend further declines in divorce rates. …The U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality.”
“Trends in Cohabitation Outcomes:
Compositional Changes and Engagement Among Never-Married Young Adults.”
Karen Benjamin Guzzo (assoc prof of sociology at Bowling Green State U, Ohio).
Journal of Marriage and the Family, August 2014.
“…Compared to earlier cohabitations, those formed after 1995 were more likely to dissolve, and those formed after 2000 were less likely to transition to marriage even after accounting for the compositional shifts among individuals in cohabiting unions. Higher instability and decreased chances of marriage occurred among both engaged and non‐engaged individuals, suggesting society‐wide changes in cohabitation over time.”
From the Fall 2015 issue of The Future of Children (Princeton) – “Marriage and Child Wellbeing Revisited.”
- “Why Marriage Matters for Child Wellbeing” by David C. Ribar. Sad that this is not obvious to all.
- “Cohabitation and Child Wellbeing” by Wendy D. Manning. Awful news.
- “The Family Is Here to Stay – or Not” by Ron Haskins. Can government policies help mitigate the effects of family decay?
“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
— Don Fabrizio in The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (the top-selling novel in Italian history), and a 1963 film with Burt Lancaster.
These trends are not irresistible. No future is inevitable. But maintaining a functioning society requires that we work at it, not let it drift like a paper boat in a stream. But first we must clearly see what is happening, and then decide what we want America to be.
Dalrock’s insights about marriage
He is a married man living with his wife and two kids in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He wants to know how the post feminist world impacts himself and his family. He explores these issues and produces powerful insights. Dark insights. See some of his posts about marriage.
- Time and fantasy: marriage itself has been degraded for many decades.
- The one obstacle she can’t remove: divorce is regarded as a woman’s failure.
- More bad news for marriage is baked in.
- She’s too traditional to marry her baby daddy.
For more information
Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Do we want to bring back traditional marriage? What is traditional marriage?
- Classic films show what marriage was. Facts show its death.
- Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage.
- Marriage today – and its dystopian future.
- Red Pill knowledge is poison to marriage.
- An easy fix to make marriages stronger and work better.
- Essential advice from a feminist conservative pastor! — How to become a divorced beta.
- The coming crash of marriage: why, and what’s next.
- Millennial girls had a golden age. Gen Z’s inherit wreckage.
Books about the post-marriage world
The classic about this subject: Men and Marriage by George Gilder (1986).
A look at men’s response to the feminist reforms of marriage: Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters by Dr. Helen Smith (2013).