Drawing on The National Marriage Project’s 2010 Report, “When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America,” I’ve mused a little about divorce and the larger relations between changed social mores and increased inequalities in America, suggesting that the sexual revolution has allowed the bourgeois to live like bohemians at the expense of fraying the delicate and more vulnerable social fabric of working class and poor Americans.
More evidence: the economic benefits of marriage. The report points out that partners who are married make more, save more, and invest more. For example, married men make between 10 and 20 percent more than single men with similar educational levels and job histories.
So, to return to the much lamented fact of income inequality in America and the growing gap between those who succeed and those who struggle—it turns out the marriage, or more precisely the decline of marriage, is a big factor.
Here’s how the Report puts it: “After more than doubling between 1947 and 1977, the growth of median family income has slowed in recent years. A big reason is that married couples, who fare better economically than their single counterparts, have been a rapidly decreasing proportion of total families. In the same 20-year period, and in large part because of changes in family structure, family income inequality has increased significantly.”
Again, I’m perplexed. Why don’t progressives call for an end to no-fault divorce, or at least hector the popular media to put an end to the Sex-in-the-City glorification of the sexual revolution? If they care about the poor and the almost poor, then the data suggest that high on the to-do agenda should be strengthening the culture of marriage for everyone.