Marriage strengthens families, communities, and nations, and social scientists can tell us why marriage matters. FamilyScholars.Org put together a fact sheet of thirty conclusions made by social scientists and named it “Why Marriage Matters.” The thirty conclusions can be found here, but bookstores carry the approximately fifty-page book with more explanations for the thirty conclusions.
The thirty conclusions are divided into five general areas: (1) Family, (2) Economy, (3) Physical Health and Longevity, (4) Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being, and (5) Crime and Domestic Violence. All thirty conclusions are interesting, but some are more surprising than others. Here are a few conclusions from the five general areas.
#2 Children are most likely to enjoy family stability when they are born into a married family.
#5 Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
#9 Divorce and unmarried childbearing increases poverty for both children and mothers, and cohabitation is less likely to alleviate poverty than is marriage.
#15 Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs.
Physical Health and Longevity:
#16 Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
#17 Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.
Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being
#22 Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
#23 Cohabitation is associated with higher levels of psychological problems among children.
Crime and Domestic Violence
#26 Boys raised in non-intact families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
#27 Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.
I discovered conclusion #30 “There is a growing marriage gap between college-educated Americans and less educated Americans” in other research material. There is a term used by social scientists to connect the dots between time of marriage and time of the birth of the first child. This term is the “Great Crossover.” It defines the time period when more women are bearing their first child before getting married rather than after marrying. The cross-over point appears to be connected to social class and education.
Normally, a couple gets married and then starts a family. However, men and women of all social classes are delaying marriage until later years – with average ages being 27 for women and 29 for men. The problem is that women are not delaying childbirth until after marriage. Women having babies without being married is no longer uncommon or met with disapproval. In fact, 48 percent of all babies are born to unwed mothers. The thirty conclusions show that this situation can bring future problems.
The cross-over point was reached among lower class and less educated women long ago. It was reached by Middle American women – women who have graduated from high school and who have some college – about the year 2000. College-educated women, like their counterparts, are waiting until later to marry, but they are also waiting to bear their first child until about two years after marrying.
Age at time of marriage is important because older brides and grooms bring more stability to marriage. The divorce rate is decreasing because couples are getting married at older ages. However, the marriage rate is also decreasing because increasing numbers of couples choose cohabitation over marriage. The thirty solutions show that marriage makes life better in most areas, but it is especially critical for children who deserve a stable environment to grow and develop. Marriage matters because it strengthens families, communities, and nations.