Only 30 percent of Americans are married, falling almost 60 percent since 1970. This should concern you.
The National Center for Family Research (NCFMR) published a groundbreaking study showing the plummeting marriage rates over the past 50 years. While marriage rates have slightly fluctuated between 1890-1970, they plunged precipitously starting in 1970 to today. While 76.5 percent of Americans were married in 1970, the rate more than halved down to a mere 31.1 percent in 2023.
During a pro-family legislators' conference in 2022, Glenn described the family as "sacred." This was a widely-accepted notion for most of our history. However, the notion that "marriage is sacred" is now considered an archaic notion and is rather viewed as an option of convenience and mutual benefit. How did our cultural assumptions about marriage change so drastically?
The notion that "marriage is sacred" is now considered an archaic notion.
It comes as no surprise that the precipitous plunge began during the sexual revolution of the 1970s, catalyzing the breakdown of marriage and the family. Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin told Axios that marriage “used to be a basic institution that everyone had to buy into in early adulthood. You got married, then you moved in together, and then you got a job.” However, according to Cherlin, “Marriage is now becoming the last step into adulthood." First, you look for a job, then you move in with your partner before you tie the knot—only if it's convenient. We have flipped the natural progression of adulthood on its head.
The notion that marriage has become an "option" is evidenced in the report, which found that those getting married for the first time between the ages of 40-59 have skyrocketed in recent years and that delayed marriages have increased by 75 percent since 1990.
“Marriage is now becoming the last step into adulthood."
Moreover, rising cohabitation rates indicate that adults are opting for relationships with an "out" option rather than life-long marital commitments and those who are choosing to get married are increasingly integrating the perks of 21st-century singlehood into their relationships. Nearly 4 million married Americans are "living alone together" (LAT), a growing movement of married couples who live separately to retain the independence that they enjoyed while being single.
Minorities are affected disproportionally.
The decline in marriages is especially prevalent in minority communities, particularly minority women. The report found that marriages amongst Hispanic women declined 33 percent, and marriages amongst black women declined as much as 60 percent within the 50-year time period. Only 26 percent of black women are married, accounting for the lowest proportion of married individuals among all demographic groups. Asian women, on the other hand, have the highest marriage rates among all demographics at 56 percent.
We're living with the consequences.
The sexual revolution has transformed marriage into an option of convenience in the "last step" of adulthood rather than the assumed pre-requisite for it. The revolution purported to emancipate, particularly women, from the obligations of traditional marriage, promising more satisfaction and fulfillment. Did it fulfill its promises? The results are in, and the answer is a resounding no. Fifty years after the revolution, married Americans report the highest levels of fulfillment and satisfaction when compared to those who are single or cohabitating. Moreover, mental health is at a breaking point. As Glenn reported, suicide rates skyrocketed 30 percent in 2022, with a 50 percent increase in the black community alone. Are we really more satisfied and fulfilled than our parents and grandparents 50 years ago? The evidence says otherwise.
Perhaps the "archaic" notion that "marriage is sacred," as Glenn defends, actually has some wisdom to it.