Yet these investments could be made by parents in long-term cohabiting relationships

Yet these investments could be made by parents in long-term cohabiting relationships

The main distinction in ericans who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree and those with less education. The college-educated are more likely to eventually marry, even though they may take longer to get around to it. In addition, nearly nine out of 10 wait until after they marry to have children, whereas a majority of those without college educations have a first child before they marry. Rates of divorce have been dropping across the board since about 1980, but the drop has been steeper for the college-educated. In the mid-20th century, people’s educational level had less impact on when, whether, and for how long they married. Today, ong the college educated.

Norwegians told researchers that they view marriage as a way to demonstrate love and commitment and to celebrate with relatives and friends the family they have constructed

Nevertheless, the last-step view of marriage is common across all educational groups in United States. And it is being carried to the nth degree in Scandinavia. In Norway and Sweden, a majority of the population marries, but weddings often take place long after a couple starts to have children, or even after all of their children are born. The median age at first marriage in Norway is an astounding 39 for men and 38 for women, according to a recent estimate-six to eight years higher than the median age at first childbirth. In Sweden, one study found that 17 percent of all marriages had occurred after the couple had had two children. Why do they even bother to marry at such a late stage of their unions? This is capstone marriage: The wedding is the last brick put in place to finally complete the building of the family.

In fact, plenty of Americans view marriage as, at best, one of many lifestyle choices and, at worst, a deeply flawed heterosexual institution that should be transcended

Americans have tended to rank marriage as more important than Europeans do for as long as there have been Americans. The transatlantic difference extends back to the Calvinist settlers who believed in the exalted place of marriage found in Martin Luther’s theology. And the difference has persisted: Between 2005 and 2009, the World Values Survey asked samples of people in various Western countries whether they agreed with the statement, “Marriage is an outdated institution.” Just 12.6 percent of Americans agreed, which is smaller than the proportion who agreed in any of the Western European nations surveyed, including heavily Catholic Italy (where 18.1 percent agreed) and Spain (31.6 percent).

Justice Anthony Kennedy reflected this high American regard for marriage when he wrote for the majority of the Court in Obergefell, “Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” Although many on the cultural and political left applauded the Court’s decision, Kennedy’s language was quite traditionalist. Some go as far as to argue that families headed by married couples should be replaced by networks of friends and past and present romantic partners.

The alternative visions are far from replacing marriage. It is an open question, however, how much longer ily life. According to the General Social Survey, a national survey of Americans conducted every other year, the percentage of Americans who agreed with the statement, “It is alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married,” increased from 41 percent in 1994 to 57 percent in 2012, the last time the question was asked. Moreover, the material foundations of erica is well past the heyday of the farm family in which a husband and wife united in labor and raised children to help work the land. Marriage seems to operate best today for parents who pool two incomes and invest heavily in their children’s development. The dominance of marriage Ogburn called “cultural lag”: the tendency of attitudes and values to change more slowly than the material conditions that underlie them.