Essay: Is Marriage a Thing of the Past?

A study done by the Center for Disease Control has found that most women have been married at least once by the time they turn 30. The report goes on to state that half of all women cohabit with a significant other prior to, or instead of marriage. The study was based on interviews with more than 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. In addition to cohabitation and marriage, it looked at other factors contributing to marital stability or lack thereof.

For instance, the probability of a first marriage lasting 5 years is 20%. However, after 10 years of marriage the chance that it will end in divorce is 33%. According to the study the probability of separation or divorce depends on the woman’s age and whether or not she was herself raised in a two parent home, whether she is religious, and whether her family was considered high or upper middle class. The report showed that marriages don’t always end in divorce. Some end in separation, with neither party formalizing the relationship into a divorce. White women are more likely to divorce after just 3 years. That figure is in fact 91%. Separated Hispanic women divorce at the rate of 77%, while Black women divorce at the rate of about 67%.

The probability that these women will get married again within 5 years is 54%. The statistics show that white women will usually get married again, Hispanic women may get married again while Black women might not get married again. In fact, the probability that divorced women will marry for a second time, has been declining since the 1950’s. During the ’50s more than 65% of all women married for a second time. Divorce rates have leveled off, however marriage rates are still on the decline with a large number of children being raised today living in single parent homes.

More than half of all Black children live in single parent homes, meaning their parents divorced or were never married in the first place. This compares to 20% of white children. The study also shows that more people are putting off getting married. This applies to men in particular. 17% of all men aged 35 to 39 have never married. Never married women in the same age group total 11%. Within the never marrieds 35% are Black men. Overall, a quarter of Black men do not live in any kind of family grouping. The rate for white men is 28%.

Many sociologists blame outside economic factors for the decline in marriage. They also make note of the fact that women are putting off child bearing in favor of advancing their professional careers. This has pushed the median age for first marriage upward to nearly 27 years for men and 25 years for women.

Others blame a loss of moral compass in society, and lax divorce laws. Many contend that getting a divorce is simply too easy and that the law should be strengthened.