How does the decline in the proportion of married couples affect society?

According to census data, married couples no longer constitute a majority of households in the Twin Cities. The percentage of married households is down to about 48 percent — a big change from 1950, when the national number was 78 percent. Today’s Question: How does the decline in the proportion of married couples affect society?

  • Skyler Vilt

    If someone can give me some tangible facts about why declining marriage rates is a bad thing, the next question is give me some tangible facts as to why banning gay marriage is a good thing.

  • Steve Haroldson

    Fewer people married really makes it tough for divorce lawyers to make the payments on their vacation homes and Porches.

  • Wade

    Does it?

    There is no good reason to get married other than you want to.

    I never understood why the homosexual community pushed so hard for the right to marry. They’ve got an easy out when their significant other is hounding them about why they aren’t married. “We can’t.”

  • Honestly? Why is this such a concern to folks?

    We are not married. We have two beautiful little girls. Live a beautiful happy life. We hear concerns from people we know who say our little girls will be teased by kids when they are school age because their mommy and daddy are not married. Why would they know any different, except from those kids parents who tell them we are bad. Get over yourself!

    Divorce is on the rise. Why mess with something that works?

  • Ray Marshall

    “We have two beautiful little girls.”

    Why do people who have a couple of pre-schoolers who seem to be well adjusted assume that their “social experiment” has been a success?

    Call back when they are about 30 and then we can decide whether or not it was a success.

    Talk to a school teacher. The social experimentation in this country over the past 50 years have made many students virtually unteachable. I would assert that the reason for that is the chaos in their home lives.

  • Zeke

    It should help to lower the divorce rate.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The premise of the question is wrong. It’s our perverse society that’s affecting the marriage rate. For two or three generations now, we’ve been failing to teach kids the value of making commitments and keeping promises while encouraging selfish ambition. The decline of marriage is an effect, not a cause, of the corruption of our society.

  • Randi

    I am a 35-year old woman in a committed relationship. We are happy. And we don’t have kids. We are constantly defending ourselves (to co-workers, family members) as to why we don’t need/want to get married and the same on the kid front. I think it should be the other way around!

  • In residential neighborhoods there is a slight decline in the noise of married couples bickering. Therefore a walk around the hood is slightly more pleasant.

  • Jack

    Why is this tagged with Religion/Ethics, and why does someone think that Religion is inherently ethical??

    Governmental marriage shouldn’t have anything to do with religion. The way things are heading, I won’t be able to marry my boyfriend thanks to the Republican congress, who’s “ethical” religious views dictate the prevention of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from gay couples and the entire queer community.

    I agree that society has affected the number of married couples, not the other way around. The heteronorms of the 1950s are being reshaped by individualism and feminism. God forbid a young lady leave college , be successful, without a husband or without her and her male partner getting married! Radical!

  • kennedy

    The question mentions 1950 as a baseline, and society has changed quite a bit since then. Women have more job/career choice instead of assuming the role of home maker, and they don’t need to rely on a husband to support them. Adding women to the work force increases the talent pool which has helped increase our nation’s GDP and standard of living.

    On the negative side, we have many more children growing up in single parent households.

  • Larry M.

    Like everything it is a trade off. Less women are staying in abusive relationships. Less children have two parents. Marriage is a stabilizing factor for most people, insurance companies know this and adjust rates for married couples. I think this is one reason the right is so against gay marriage, if more gay couples become more stable and committed, buy property etc. the gay community will be more difficult to unfairly demonize.

  • Greg

    Not a bit … because it is a symptom of our society not a control on it.

  • Greg

    To those who want to ammend the state consitution and define marriage as ONLY between a man and a woman .. I have two thoughts. ONE … if you marry under a faith and require the law to secure the definition what your marriage is … you have no faith. You are simply using the marriage as a means to some other end. TWO … denying others the simple right to declare a marriage – regardless of the obligations or benefits – based on your life and your faith is inherent bigotry. Accept that. THREE … a constitutional ammendment to define a word for everyone , would be looked upon by Daniel Webster as both a waste of time and declaration of ignorance of culture and society. People will use words as they please.

  • Kyle D.

    It’s very difficult to ascribe any effect to this one thing, as there are countless other factors changing at the same time that declining marriage may drive or be driven by.

    Which factor(s) is/are driving it will have a lot to do with what the effects are, since marriage doesn’t exist in a vaccuum. If the proportion of married people is low because Gen Xers and baby boomers (the divorcing-est generations ever) waited until the kids were grown to split up, then the effects might not go far beyond higher tax revenue because they can’t file jointly any more, for example.

    But if younger people are putting off getting married until a little later in life, that would have different effects. Without a little more context, this question is just baseless opinion-bating.

  • Neil

    A little more data about what is really changing would help this discussion. There are a lot of possible explanations for the drop from 78% to 48%.

    – Is it because widows and widowers are keeping their homes longer?

    – It is because singles are moving out of their parents’ homes and living alone or with friends prior to marriage?

    – Is it because divorced couples now typically create 2 households, when they couldn’t afford to do so before?

    – Is it because couples (of all sorts) are living together unmarried?

    – Is it because the statisticians are now including apartments and other institutions (retirement homes, college residences, etc.) in their definition of households, when the defnintion previously only included free-standing houses

    Without the clarifying information it’s hard to even speculate at the impact on society of the percentage change.

    Next question please.

  • Carrie

    It’s hard to say what the affect will be without knowing why the percentage has gone down. If it’s just because fewer people are getting married, then maybe there will be some affect on children and the stability of the family unit. Even that’s pretty hard to predict.

  • Carlo Biondolillo

    Decling marriage rates is not a bad thing! People are probabily thinking twice, taking their time, trying to better know their partner. If I am right within the next decade we should see a declining rate in divorce as well.

    Then statistics do not take into account thousands of gays couples increasing at very high rate.

  • Cambria

    RE: Ray Marshal – you are suggesting my life is a social experiment and my children will be “unteachable”. This is precisely what troubles me about people like you. I’m not experimenting, this is how life panned out. Just because we are not married doesn’t mean our home is chaotic. Married couples can have chaotic homes – isn’t divorce on the rise? I’m not putting down the institution of marriage (we are engaged), I’m troubled by those who create stereotypes of a scenario and family they know nothing about. I accept your choices, I expect the same respect.

  • Kevin VC

    What it tells me is we need to stop thinking of laws and legislation in terms of married or not married. Treat people as people.

    It would be nice if our busy lives allowed for marriage, but when you need to work 3 full time jobs just to make ends meet, making Whoopie just is not on the schedule.

    And when you are unemployed you do not want to even think about dating costs…

    With the shrinking Middle class since Reagan, who can afford marriage? We make less at the Middle then we did in the 70’s. And when you factor in inflation and price changes, that number goes down even further…

    One often does not consider marriage until they have a stable life….. Who has that? The rich top 2 %?

  • suestuben

    I’m surprised that there has been no discussion about the economic consequences of marriage versus co-habitation. As a society, we tend to dress marriage in the religious and emotional trappings when the largest effect of the ceremony is economic and judicial. It may be a healthy change that there are fewer families asking the ‘blessing’ of the state. More people are realizing that they can have all the love and meaningfulness of marriage without the judicial and revenue systems sticking their noses into the family unit.

    However, the state does offer some protection for family members (especially the children) when proper papers are signed and words are spoken. If one examines the socio-economic classes that are forgoing marriage, you’ll find it is the less monied folks who feel they do not need any interference from the government. The wealthier classes still cement their economic unions with judicial procedures; they do so to protect the resources each party brings into the family and also those resources that will be added after the union.

    Remember, our society has a lot to gain through the economics of marriage; the contract that is formed has nothing to do with religion or emotion, but is a way to protect the individuals, and the society, who sign it. It is that legal protection and advantage that the gay community is fighting for. And it could be a great thing if the local governments would find a way to use the institution to protect the less economically advantaged who might then decide to get married.