The Marriage Gap

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Fifty years ago, marriage and divorce rates in America were roughly equal among all classes and races. Not anymore. Not even close. When headlines this month announced divorce rates were down to their lowest point in decades that was true, sort of.

They're down for the college-educated and affluent. Up for the poor. And marriage itself is becoming the custom of the well-placed in society, a kind of luxury item.

We are now a country where a huge portion of the affluent marry, and a huge portion of the poor do not.

This hour On Point: the marriage gap, and what it means for the future of families.

Quotes from the Show:

"There has been this drop [in divorce rates] but it's almost entirely among the college-educated portion of the population so the people at the bottom of the class level — their divorce rate has gone up." David Popenoe

"The other element of this marriage gap has to do with people who are having children outside of marriage and those again tend to be or probably three times more likely to be low-income women and less-educated women rather than college-educated women." Kay Hymowitz

"For the African-American populations, there is something new here because, historically, even among African-Americans who didn't marry, there was a lot of co-habitation and there were common-law marriages and they tended to be more or less stable over time. Now however, 70 percent of African-American children or nearly 70 percent are born to unmarried parents and they are much less likely than whites to co-habit. ... But again, the important thing to point out is that this is now a quite common phenomenon in our society generally. " Ronald Mincy


David Popenoe, professor and founder of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, and author of "War over the Family"

Kay Hymowitz, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of "Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age"

Ronald Mincy, professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, and editor of "Black Males Left Behind".

This program aired on May 31, 2007.


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