Marriage Rates Stable —for the Rich

Lower-income earners see much higher decline over decades
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2012 3:20 PM CST
Marriage Rates Stable —for the Rich
Marital bliss is more likely for the well-heeled.   (Shutterstock)

The institution of marriage is doing fine in America—for the wealthy, anyway. Marriage rates over the past 40 years have declined only a little for the top tenth of male earners, from 95% in 1970 to 83% today, according to a new report from the Brookings Institute. But for everyone else, it's a different story. For men in all other income categories, marriage rates fell from 91% to 64%, the New York Times reports.

The decline was especially precipitous for the bottom quarter of earners; men in that group saw their marriage rate fall from 86% to 50%. Women followed much the same trend, though their biggest earners actually saw their marriage rate increase. Some of the drop-off down the ladder is the result of rising divorce rates, but mostly people just aren't getting married. Women's median incomes have risen dramatically over the last 40 years, meaning they don't need to get married for financial support. (Read more marriage stories.)

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