Premature Post-Mortem on Marriage

Michael Medved

12/20/2011 8:07:01 PM - Michael Medved

Major media outlets cited a new study from the Pew Research Center as proof that the institution of marriage is collapsing. In the process they distorted the essential nature of the research. 

The most publicized conclusion featured the information that only a “bare majority”—some 51 percent—of Americans 18 or older are currently married, compared to 72 percent some 50 years ago. But this one figure hides the real cause of the decline: the fact that people today wait longer to tie the knot.

Most people still plan on marriage and value it -including big majorities of the only 28% who have never married. Even the age at first marriage hasn't changed as radically as reported: the median for males in 1890 was 26, and, 120 years later, it's 28.

If media gave a more honest accounting of these numbers they’d show marriage remaining the desired, normative goal for most Americans, giving scant basis for exaggerated worry over the current state of the family.