Today we’re breaking down a recent essay from CNN: “Why the marriage gap is bad for America“. The author, Leah Ward Sears, is a retired justice for the Georgia Supreme Court. In the article, Sears writes about the demographic reality that working- and middle-class families are less likely to get married and stay married than what she calls “upscale” families (i.e. ones where the spouses are college-educated).
Sears urges us to care because:
The social science evidence today is indisputable: Children who grow up in intact, married families are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, find work and enjoy a stable family life, compared with their peers who grow up in broken families.
BeckySharper: I didn’t have an automatic allergic reaction to it the way I do to most discussions about the decline of marriage in the US, nearly all of which are rooted in moralizing—God sez: hetero marriage GOOD, everything else BAD—rather than offering any concrete evidence of why marriage benefits society. There’s also a refreshing lack of blame in this article—none of the usual “working women and single moms are ruining America.”
I think there’s a trend worth discussing, though, if marriage is skewing towards an institution where college-educated couples and their upper-middle-class families reap the economic/social benefits of long-lasting, stable marriages but working-class and middle-class families do not. There are some serious social ramifications there regardless of whether you’re pro-marriage or not.
It’s the same with the growing, class-based marriage gap. We can’t just put a bandage on the injustice by, for instance, providing support groups only to single parents, albeit support groups certainly can help. Instead, we should help couples, too, achieve the stability for which they long.This means, among other things, reconnecting marriage and parenthood in the public imagination, encouraging both religious and secular civic organizations to reach out to Americans from less-privileged backgrounds, and also urging state lawmakers to reconsider how existing divorce laws are helping — or hurting — our families.