In case you needed another reminder that we are no longer living in the 1950s, the census has got one for you: for the first time ever, married couples make up less than half of the households in this country. Back in 1950, seventy-eight percent of households were married couples, whereas now the statistic is forty-eight percent. Additionally, in 1950, forty-three percent of households were married couples with children, but now that once traditional domestic set-up exists in only a fifth of all American households.
While some of us might be quick to jump to the conclusion that the marriage rate is dropping due to women entering the work force and a general evening-out of gender roles, the New York Times is reporting that this is not necessarily so. Factors such as education, class status, economy, and extended life span are just as significant. Studies have shown that college-educated women are actually more likely to marry than high-school educated women, and that both men and women who have gone to college put off marriage until later in life. Additionally, college-educated couples tend to stay married, while high-school educated couples tend to have their marriages end in divorce.
What this all means, basically, is that the marriage rate is forever fluctuating. Unmarried couples often live together for years before getting married, but often times they do indeed end up married. What I want to know is, now that our country's marriage rate has slid beneath fifty percent, can we discontinue the term "nuclear family?" It's just always really bothered me.