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Fewer Americans found to be tying the knot

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 14th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Far fewer Americans are jumping the broom, tying the knot, getting' hitched. A new study has found the institution of marriage is becoming far less popular in the United States, and those who do marry are putting it off far longer than their predecessors who marched up the aisle.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the U.S. Census data by Pew Research Center published this week, married American adults have dropped to a record low in 2009-2010, to just a dab over half of population 18 and older.

Marriage has been on the decline for decades. Married adults in the U.S. went from 72 percent in 1960 to 51 percent today. Some say that trend is on account of a rising tolerance for single parents, cohabitation without marriage and other alternatives.

If this statistics remain on an even course, the share of U.S. adults who are married will dip to less than half within a few years, the Pew study says.

"There's been a retreat from marriage going on for awhile now," Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia says.

"The economic fallout from the Great Recession has made the retreat from marriage accelerate. That's just because even today, Americans see marriage at least in part as an economic undertaking. So particularly when partners, especially men, don't have decent stable work they are more likely to postpone or forego marriage," Wilcox adds.

The most dramatic decrease in marriage was a 5 percent decrease in the number of new marriages between 2009 and 2010, an unusually sharp one-year drop that "may or may not be related to the sour economy," according to the Pew study.

The marriage rate for the 18-29 age groups has fallen from 59 percent in 1960 to 20 percent today. A major factor was the soaring divorce rates in the 1960s and '70s, becoming a major factor in the growing contingent of singles in the United States but then leveled off in the last two decades.

Wilcox says that divorce rates remain high, and declines in marriage are particularly concentrated in lower income brackets. He calls the trend the "de-institutionalization of the working class."

"Strong marriages and strong families flourish in a healthy economic and community context. Those contexts have weakened particularly in working class and poor communities in the last 30-40 years," Wilcox said. "People are less likely to be engaged in stable fulltime work, their church community, the Jaycees."

The age of first marriages has climbed to a record high of 26.5 for brides and 28.7 for grooms, Pew reports.

"It is not yet known whether today's young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it," the study said.

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