Marriage Obsolete?

Pew Study: Americans marrying less, young adults redefining families

ByABC News
November 18, 2010, 12:25 PM

Nov. 18, 2010 — -- Not only are more marriages on the rocks these days, so is marriage itself, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

A survey of 2,691 Americans done in association with Time magazine found that nearly four in 10 Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. That's an 11 percent spike since 1978, when Time asked the same question.

"Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn't dominate family life like it used to," Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at John Hopkins University, told the Associated Press.

Younger people are leading the way in redefining what marriage means. Forty-four percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 saw marriage as obsolete, compared to 32 percent of those 65 and older.

Other groups more likely to see marriage as a fading institution included blacks, at 44 percent, those with a high school diploma or less, at 44 percent, and people who made $30,000 or less a year, at 48 percent.

Census data have shown that younger people are marrying less and less, and when they marry, they're generally older.

The median age of when one first gets married is at its highest point ever. For women, it's 26.1 years of age, and for men, it's 28.2.

On top of that, for the first time in half a century, the number of unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 outnumbers the number of married people in the same age range.

Experts say that young adults between 18 and 29 are more likely to have an unmarried or divorced parent, and that's made a difference in how they view marriage.

Young people are marrying less often, in part, because they're taking marriage more seriously after watching their own parents divorce or separate from one another.