Pew Research Center’s latest statistics reveal that 38% of Americans believe marriage is becoming obsolete. Other headliners:

  • In 1960 72% of US adults were married; by 2008 the proportion was 52%.
  • The average age at which men and women first marry is now the highest ever recorded, having risen by roughly five years in the past half century.
  • Over the past 50 years, the share of children born to unmarried mothers has risen dramatically—increasing eightfold from 5% in 1960 to 41% in 2008.
  • The number of children under age 18 living with two married parents has decreased to 64% in 2008 from 87% in 1960.
  • College graduates (64%) are much more likely to be married than those who have never attended college (48%).
  • The racial differences are even larger. Blacks (32%) are much less likely than whites (56%) to be married, and this gap has increased significantly over time. And black children (52%) are nearly three times as likely as white children (18%) and nearly twice as likely as Hispanic children (27%) to live with one parent.
  • When asked whether the growing variety in the types of family arrangements is a good thing, a bad thing or doesn’t make a difference, the public is evenly split. A third (34%) say it’s a good thing, 29% say it’s a bad thing and 32% say it doesn’t make a difference.
  • More than six-in-ten (62%) now say that the best kind of marriage is one where the husband and wife both work and both take care of the household and children. In 1977, fewer than half (48%) endorsed this egalitarian template for spousal roles.
  • And the public is quite open to the idea that marriage need not be the only path to family formation. An overwhelming majority says a single parent and a child constitute a family (86%), nearly as many (80%) say an unmarried couple living together with a child is a family, and 63% say a gay couple raising a child is a family.
  • Three-quarters of all adults (76%) say their family is the most important element of their life at this time. An additional 22% say it is one of the most important elements but not the most important. Only 1% say their family is not an important element of their life.
  • Three-quarters are very satisfied with their family life, and 19% are somewhat satisfied. Fewer than one-in-ten (6%) are dissatisfied with this aspect of their life.

Even if you don’t read the full report, do click on the link to the summary page and note the birth/deaths ticker at the top of the page. It’s quite sobering.

  • Esther

    Hello Dr. Murray,While the statistics are quite alarming, I am [sadly] not surprised that so many Americans (and likely Canadians too) think marriage is becoming obsolete. I just wanted to comment on this because recently in one of my political science lectures, the professor stated that marriage has no purpose and even hinders the purpose of the individual in society. I strongly disagree, but from the view of non-Christians, it makes sense. If the primary purpose of marriage is to glorify God, why would the world take part in it?