Slide 19: Marriage loses momentum
Coontz continues, “In the 1950s, using the marriage license as a shorthand way to distribute benefits and legal privileges made some sense because almost all adults were married. Cohabitation and single parenthood by choice were very rare. Today, however, possession of a marriage license tells us little about peoples interpersonal responsibilities. Half of all Americans aged 25 to 29 are unmarried, and many of them already have incurred obligations as partners, parents or both.” Indeed, on the United States less than 25 percent of families are nuclear families that consist of a mother, father and their children. In 2006, for the first time in history (and six years after the creation of the above graph) less than 50 percent of family units were made up of couples whose partnership is sanctified by the state. In other words, these days 51 percent of family units do not consist of married partners. Furthermore, today, 40 percent of children born in America do not have married parents.