Monday, August 15, 2011

The real threat to marriage: the economy

While NOM and others fulminate against LGBT couples marrying, they might do better to look at the horrific effects that the recession has on marriage (not to mention conservative policies that disadvantage the poor and jobless).

From the Atlantic, last year but still current:
[J]oblessness corrodes marriages, and makes divorce much more likely down the road. According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the gender imbalance of the job losses in this recession is particularly noteworthy, and—when combined with the depth and duration of the jobs crisis—poses “a profound challenge to marriage,” especially in lower-income communities. ...
Among couples without college degrees, says Edin, marriage has become an “increasingly fragile” institution. In many low-income communities, she fears it is being supplanted as a social norm by single motherhood and revolving-door relationships. As a rule, fewer people marry during a recession, and this one has been no exception. But “the timing of this recession coincides with a pretty significant cultural change,” Edin says: a fast-rising material threshold for marrying, but not for having children, in less affluent communities.

Edin explains that poor and working-class couples, after seeing the ravages of divorce on their parents or within their communities, have become more hesitant to marry; they believe deeply in marriage’s sanctity, and try to guard against the possibility that theirs will end in divorce. Studies have shown that even small changes in income have significant effects on marriage rates among the poor and the lower-middle class. ...
Childbearing is the opposite story. The stigma against out-of-wedlock children has by now largely dissolved in working-class communities—more than half of all new mothers without a college degree are unmarried. For both men and women in these communities, children are commonly seen as a highly desirable, relatively low-cost way to achieve meaning and bolster identity—especially when other opportunities are closed off. Christina Gibson-Davis, a public-policy professor at Duke University, recently found that among adults with no college degree, changes in income have no bearing at all on rates of childbirth.

“We already have low marriage rates in low-income communities,” Edin told me, “including white communities. And where it’s really hitting now is in working-class urban and rural communities, where you’re just seeing astonishing growth in the rates of nonmarital childbearing. And that would all be fine and good, except these parents don’t stay together. This may be one of the most devastating impacts of the recession.”
What was that about "every child deserves a mother and a father"? Seriously, the biggest challenge to stable marriages appears to be the economy. If anyone is actually interested in ensuring that children have two parents and safe homes to grow up in, surely, they would be working to promote economic policies that promote marriage. But from those opposed to LGBT marriage equality, we hear nothing about this. In their eagerness to hurt my family, they ignore families who are hurting. Doesn't sound very "Christian" to me.

1 comment:

Counterlight said...

It seems to me that what breaks apart most marriages is not infidelity, but arguments over money. I'm not surprised to see the issue of money tearing apart households at a time when very few feel secure, when there is a lot of income disparity within homes, and especially when one spouse becomes financially dependent upon another.
If people were really interested in saving the institution of marriage, they'd be creating work for people, or even just giving them free money to get them to spend, create demand, and jump start the economy.