Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lucia Greedy Marriage

A couple of researchers in the US have "discovered" that married people are less likely to help others than single people.
More precisely, marriage can be greedy, according to Naomi Gerstel of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Natalia Sarkisian of Boston College, who have written a paper called "Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Greedy." Analyzing two nationwide social surveys, they found that married couples spend less time than singles calling, writing, and visiting with their friends, neighbors, and extended family. According to their research, married people are also less likely to give friends and neighbors emotional support and practical help, such as with household chores.

Gerstel and Sarkisian's research flies in the face of recent academic studies and political speeches arguing that marriage is the endangered cornerstone of a healthy society, benefiting the mental, physical, and financial well-being of children and adults, and, ultimately, their fellow citizens. They argue that marriage may actually, albeit unwittingly, have just the opposite effect - sapping the strength of American communities and diminishing our ability to think and act for the common good.

"Many, bemoaning the retreat from marriage, also mourn the loss of community," they wrote in the Fall 2006 issue of Contexts, a journal of the American Sociological Association. "What these nostalgic discussions do not recognize, ironically, is that marriage and community are often at odds with one another."
Oh, so being married is destructive in society. How interesting.... But, wait there's more! Only married white couples are "greedy", and only those without children.
There were two interesting exceptions. First, when it came to helping friends, the marriage gap showed up only with white couples, not among African-Americans or Hispanics. The researchers don't offer any explanation for this. But they do have ideas about what's behind a second wrinkle in their findings: When married couples had children it erased the gap in the amount of emotional and practical support they gave to friends and neighbors. Married couples with children gave just as much support as single parents or childless singles. The researchers surmise that while raising kids eats up lots of time and emotional energy, married parents rebuild their social networks while finding playmates, caretakers, and activity partners for their children.
Isn't the whole point of marriage having children anyway?

Related Link: The greedy marriage

9 comment(s):


Because married people give and give and give, and never get anything in return. That is why our divorce rate is so high.

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview with one of the authors, Natalia Sakisian, here:


and she has this to say about the report:

"That’s not to say that our argument in this paper is anti-family; it’s very pro-family, in fact. It expands the usual
definition of family beyond a mom, a dad and their children to include extended family and older relatives. Many politicians today talk a lot about “family values,” lamenting their decline. But they usually talk only about so-called traditional nuclear families—married couples with young children. I find this to be a very narrow definition of “family values.” It is ironic that many even blame the decline in extended families and communities on the decline of that traditional nuclear family, while in fact marriage dampens extended family ties."

What to make of that then, in lieu of the IHT report? It does seem like a bit of wheel reinventing though.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, that should be:


Anonymous said...

But they usually talk only about so-called traditional nuclear families—married couples with young children. I find this to be a very narrow definition of “family values.”
As opposed to what? The reinvented family of three fathers and a cloned sibling perhaps? I guess you could call anything a family. It says a lot about the motivations of this so-called research and what it was no doubt set up to 'prove'. I firmly believe you can make research say whatever you like now. It's all about the wording of the questions and the demographics that you ask them of, not to mention the subjective interpretations later.
That said, I have to say that I have plenty of housework to do on the weekends without going up the road cleaning my neighbor's houses and I wouldn't want them coming in to wash my dirty laundry.
And the fact that singles are calling their friends more is basic common sense. You want someone to go out with.
I hardly think that makes you a less 'greedy' person.

Andrei said...

If you believe the linked article then the epitome of "greedy marriages" would be the sterile gay ones since the majority of heterosexual ones ultimately produce children and then become "ungreedy".

Swimming said...

The link to the actual article is here

Anonymous said...

This paper is a tremendous example of "duh?" research.

Unmarried children who become aunties and uncles have always been known for their devotion to their immediate parents and the families that emanate from the nest; and we all know that a young married couple strike out on their own and form another largely independent family and economic unit .. well, duh?

And we all know that that newly independent families form other supportive relationships with similar families who share babysitting duties, social interactions and relationships with school, ballet, rugby and other groupings appropriate to the budding activities of the kids.. duh?

We know that as the parents age and the kids fly the nest, they interact more with other groupings appropriate to their age, interests, religions, illnesses and charitable instincts.. things that went on hold in the birthing and rearing stages.

And finally, as the children of colonialists, we know, understand and accept that we are different to what was the old European habit of walled and closed villages with animals, parents, the married and the children living cheek by jowl for generations, although in the New World we know all about the natives who still live that way.
Our way is to strike out and away from the nucleus and form nuclei of our own in different and sometimes wild places, and along with our movements came the development of the postal packet, the telegraph, the phone, the fax and the unbelievable advances in transport and we communicate with our kids who have flown the coup by email in an integrated system that allows us to communicate back to our roots and forward to the new nests.

Behind us we leave our parents and sufficient kin, plus a social welfare system, and ahead we see our kids with their own support networks and a social welfare system.. both forward and back we leave new systems and new opportunities of such liberty that to see my 86 year old mother in law we must book an appointment to fit in with her day.

Things have changed; modernity puts more emphasis on the nuclear family and less on the extended family, but modern communication means we probably have as much contact as if we were still living in the same town.


MathewK said...

I'm with you Aurora, i can't see myself or any of my friends helping with household chores, it's a bit weird to have friends over washing dishes and vacuuming..

"Isn't the whole point of marriage having children anyway?"

Not until they've managed to get gay marriage passed, but once thats out of the way, it will be, the next step you see.

Greg said...

Is anyone following that case in Aussie regarding the lesbian couple suing their obs/gyn doctor because they had IVF twins.
They had only ordered the single compact in white (with the pinkish hue). Outrage!

See www.smh.com.au

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