Sunday, May 17, 2009

Trends in marital status

Readers criticized my 2008 GSS data analysis showing that only 8.7% of men ages 55 and over have never married because it doesn't show how much things have changed for young people. I chose 55 because there are guys still getting married for the first time at that age. The higher the cutoff you pick, the lower the percentage of guys never married. Of course, the problem is that the older the group you are looking at in 2008, the earlier the cohort they are. My readers are so demanding, they not only want to see the data, they want to see the future data.

The best we can do is make a projection based on recent trends. The graph shows the marital status of white men ages 40 to 50. Some men will marry after this age range, but not many (but the again, we don't know the future). The years go from 1972 to 2008 (There isn't enough room for the years to appear below the bars).

The critics of marriage are certainly correct in saying that the institution ain't what is used to be. In 1972, almost every 40-50 year old man was married. The percent married, separated, or never married has steadily grown for more than 35 years. In 2008, the never-marrieds are about 20% of the total. As I wrote before, the number would be a bit lower if homosexuals were omitted. Based on the long-term trend, guys currently in their twenties could be as much as 30% never-married in their forties.

We have been in a transition away from marriage uniformity to diversity for almost 50 years. Back then, people were role-oriented. Marriage was see as something you just do. And they were the smart ones, by the way. Now, it's a choice which some take, some fail at, and some avoid altogether.

The vast majority of women are going to have children, even under the new family regime, so the only question is, are they raising them alone or with someone else? Research shows that society is better off if the kids are raised in a two-parent biological home. The more we tilt the mix in that direction, the more we thrive. So which side of the battle are you on?

I anticipate that some readers will cry: "We're just pawns. Women are running the show. It's all their fault." Like I said before, one statistic at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Please Ron.

    The stats all show a HUGE decline in marriage, particularly among middle/working class women, and a HUGE increase in illegitimate kids, even among middle class women. Charles Murray has been blogging on this and will present the data soon.

    You can't force women to get married, the data suggests that women won't marry unless the guy has a huge premium over her in status/power/wealth.

    Women have their freedom, and are largely rejecting marriage.

    The nuclear family is dead, it's true that single motherhood is a disaster, but we cannot prevent short of forcing most women to marry, which is simply not possible. Most women would prefer to play the field in their twenties, build their career in their early thirties, and have one designer eugenic yuppie baby in their late thirties if they are middle class. If they are working class, have several kids by different, exciting bad boy fathers.

    This is social reality. We will just have to cope with the current system, including the collapse of male nerd-dom, since bad boys of average IQ get rewarded and those of nerdy persuasion with high IQs get punished in the sexual and mating marketplace.


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