But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.
Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.
“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.
I have told both my sons that their best bet in choosing a spouse is making sure the girl comes from an intact family. That way she would have seen her parents stick it out together through thick and thin and therefore be more likely to be able to do the same herself.
In my experience and in my wider family, most of those family members who came from divorced households have failed miserably in their marriages. By the time is has got to the third generation (ie the grandchild of the original divorced parent who herself was raised by a divorced parent), it's been a 100% marriage failure rate.
While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.
John Key was likewise raised by a single mother. However, wider New Zealand society modelled the married couple ideal at the time he was growing up. It doesn't seem to any more with an increasing number of people thinking of marriage as just a piece of paper. I know I thought that way more than twenty years ago even though it's changed now!
Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’ ~ New York Times