Is Working Class Marriage Vanishing?

Joe Scudder
Written by Joe Scudder

The media claims working class marriage is declining because they can’t afford it, but we can’t afford for them to not wed.

Working class marriage is declining, allegedly because women don’t want to marry unemployed men. But that’s shallow reasoning. If a man was dedicated to working as much as he could and as often as he could he would still be an asset to a family and probably eventually be regularly employed.

Social changes which the media advocates also are undoubtedly factors in this trend. The easy availability of sex outside of marriage, along with the feminist propaganda that mothers don’t need husbands and children don’t need fathers, affect men’s decisions. Furthermore, the welfare state is altering women’s decisions since the state becomes their husband and the father of their children.

The New York Times reports, “How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?

Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.

Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class and education.

A big reason for the decline: Unemployed men are less likely to be seen as marriage material.

“Women don’t want to take a risk on somebody who’s not going to be able to provide anything,” said Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell who published “Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships” with Amanda Jayne Miller last month.

As marriage has declined, though, childbearing has not, which means that more children are living in families without two parents and the resources they bring.

“The sharpest distinction in American family life is between people with a bachelor’s or not,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins and author of “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.”

Just over half of adolescents in poor and working-class homes live with both their biological parents, compared with 77 percent in middle- and upper-class homes, according to the research brief, by W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the Institute for Family Studies. Thirty-six percent of children born to a working-class mother are born out of wedlock, versus 13 percent of those born to middle- and upper-class mothers.

The New York Times doesn’t mention social scholar Charles Murray who has researched this and related changes in society:

Read the entire New York Times story.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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