The National Marriage Project has released a new state of unions report indicating that marriages are more stable among Americans who have a four-year college degree or more.
According to the latest national data, "Middle Americans," defined as the 58 percent of Americans with a high school education but no college degree, have a lower marriage success rate than their affluent counterparts. In fact, the rate of divorce, non-marital childbearing and marital quality among Middle Americans has grown to resemble that of the poor. Unlike in previous years, highly educated, wealthy Americans are actually embracing a pro-marriage mindset, while lower classes are moving away from it.
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Researchers at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute of American Values are researching trends contributing to the reversal. These include increased unemployment, a slump in religious attendance and changing attitudes toward marriage. Although highly educated Americans are more likely to support progressive social issues, it looks like they're reverting to a more traditional view on family life. A few points worth noting:
- Faith and a traditional "marriage mindset" now play a more pronounced role in the marriages of highly educated Americans. Historically, higher classes were less likely to attend church and adhere to a "marriage mindset." The latest data shows, however, that 34 percent of highly educated Americans attend church services on at least a weekly basis, compared to 28 percent of Middle Americans. Moreoever, more teenagers from highly educated families are more likely to feel embarrassed over an out-of-wedlock pregnancy than their counterparts from moderately educated homes. How Did Marriage Become Religious?
- The out-of-wedlock birthrate is significantly higher among moderately educated Americans than highly educated ones. A whopping 54 percent of Middle American mothers report an out-of-wedlock child, as opposed to only 6 percent of highly educated moms. Compare this to the '80s, where the number was 33 percent for least-educated mothers and 13 percent for moderately educated ones.
- The divorce rate among Middle Americans is increasing. Meanwhile, dissolution between highly educated spouses within the first 10 years of marriage has gone down over the past couple of decades.