Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Has Being Married Gone Out of Style?

From Po:

(Jump to our new essay at

Last Thanksgiving, I wrote an email to my mailing list, with a message about the state of family. I started off by noting that the typical American home has no kids in it. Not 2.2 kids, not 1.8 kids, but zero kids. 62% of American homes have no children in them. It was a potentially-alarming stat, but I explained why we shouldn't be alarmed. Plenty of people are having children, but American families are now spread out through several houses, rather than under one roof - thus the one house with the kids in it is a smaller percentage of the total. Grandma lives in her house, big brother lives at college, big sister is in her 20s living in the city, mom and dad are divorced so they have two houses where they share custody of the one little brother, the one child. A family with three kids can easily be split into 5 houses.

Last Saturday, the New York Times reported on a census study that showed a similar sea change shift. Married couple households are no longer the majority in America - they've slipped under 50%. The resulting press put most of the blame on the culture of young people to cohabitate rather than to marry.

Ashley and I jumped at the chance to correct some misimpressions here. The generation of young people are cohabitating, but not at the exclusion of marriage - over 90% will marry at some point in their lives. We have just written an essay at clarifying the true reasons that there are so many new non-married households.

Of note: the New York Times inaccurately reported that "1 in 20 households are people living alone." The accurate number is wildly different - 27% of households are individuals living alone. We believe this inaccuracy led the Times to overemphasize the impact of cohabitating couples. Other press reports mistakenly described the 37 million "non family, non married households" as mostly couples who live together. In fact, that's not even close. A whopping 83% of those 37 million are not couples. They're not romantically involved at all. They're merely roommates.


Blogger Fuller said...

Po and Ashley,

I just read your article from October, and I appreciate the facts. Generally, the news media wants us to think that marriage and family are out of style or old fashion. In addition, I work at a large public university where the concept of a "traditional" family really seems evil. Your short article explains that there is not a trend in abandoning marriage. The psychology and desires of human beings want to belong, and the nuclear family is the most natural environment to fulfill this desire.

5:43 AM  
Blogger prml said...

Hi there,

You know I think journaling is an amazing way to reflect on our relationships. It is amazing how much you can learn. These types of blogs almost allow us to peek into other peoples lives and it is a special opportunity. I actually found a way to share even more and submitted a couple of my journal entries to a publishing company for submission. It was a great experience and I like to think that when my stories get out it will help many who have not even seen great blogs like this. I am mentioning it here because it seems you all have a lot to say so you should give it a try too at I do not work for this company for the record but I just loved my experience and I am sharing it.

Check it out, I even got my husband to write a story and it blew me away. The whole experience was very cathartic.

Thanks for all of you being so open, I always learn a great deal from reading these blogs.

12:51 PM  

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