The New York Times

How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?

Marriage, which used to be the default way to form a family in the United States, regardless of income or education, has become yet another part of American life reserved for those who are most privileged.

Fewer Americans are marrying overall, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.

Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times5 min readSociety
The Word May Be Toxic, but Amnesty Is Everywhere
The biggest taboo in the immigration debate is the idea of an “amnesty.” Immigration opponents routinely paint amnesties for immigrants living illegally in the United States as catastrophic blows to the rule of law. The implication is that the only p
The New York Times4 min read
Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom?
Young Americans seem to be losing faith in freedom. Why? According to the World Values Survey, only about 30 percent of Americans born after 1980 believe it is absolutely essential to live in a democratic country, compared with 72 percent of American
The New York Times11 min read
Why Surge Prices Make Us So Mad
When Bruce Springsteen decided to do a run of shows at a Broadway theater with fewer than a thousand seats, he appeared to reject the laws of economics — or at least what would seem to be in his financial best interest. He limited ticket prices to $7