U.S. Marriage Rate Continues Decline; Men Tie Knot Later; Scholar Cites Effects on Civic Culture

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

U.S. Marriage Rate Continues Decline; Men Tie Knot Later; Scholar Cites Effects on Civic Culture


Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The third annual National Marriage Week USA begins Tuesday amid a tumultuous state of the union.

Connubial joy is punctured by news that marital happiness plummets after a few years and having a baby puts romance on hold, sometimes for years.

U.S. marriage rates are low and dropping, while the average age of first marriage for American men has risen to almost 29 years.

A new study asserts that marriages and cohabiting relationships aren't all that different in the long run. Instead, after a few years, married couples look like unmarried couples on measures of well-being, health and social ties, researchers Larry Bumpass of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Kelly Musick of Cornell University write in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

And a new book by American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray warns that the loss of marriage and other founding virtues - especially in the white lower class - may spell the end of the America's unique civic culture.

Marriage is already the fault line between America's rich and poor, writes Mr. Murray. Unless trends against marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity are reversed, many of the best and most exceptional qualities of American culture cannot survive, Mr. Murray says in Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

In a recent interview, Chuck Stetson, chairman of the Let's Strengthen Marriage campaign, and colleague Sheila Weber, executive director of National Marriage Week USA, say they are aware of these developments, but are undaunted.

On the one hand, I recognize the numbers of where we are. But I'm not discouraged, because I think the American people, once they focus on this thing, can turn this thing around, says Mr. Stetson, a venture capitalist who also promotes Bible literacy in schools.

Rebuilding our economy is tied to rebuilding marriages, says Mrs. Weber, whose group lists on its website hundreds of pro-marriage events happening this week. …

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