The Marriage Problem: Has Our Culture Weakened Families?

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Once a reliable thread that held American society together, the institution of marriage is falling apart, argues sociologist James Q. Wilson. And the results, he says, are devastating.

It's hard to argue with Wilson's argument about the fate of marriage. The percentage of American children living in two-family homes has been declining since the 1960's. More than half of American marriages end in divorce. Co-habitation before marriage — a product of society's celebration of individual freedom and lack of commitment — has become an acceptable option in most areas of American society.

This hour, James Q. Wilson, who first came into prominence with his influential "Broken Windows" approach to fighting crime, argues his second point, that the decline of the two-parent household is harmful to American society. Pointing to statistics about childhood delinquency, teen pregnancy, and high school drop-out rates, Wilson asserts that many of society's problems can be traced back to the decline of its formerly solid marriage-based core. President Bush agrees. Do you?


James Q. Wilson, social scientist

author of "The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families"
Theodora Ooms, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy

This program aired on March 28, 2002.

Tom Ashbrook Former Host, On Point
Tom Ashbrook is an award-winning journalist and host of WBUR and NPR's On Point.



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