The American family: Past and Present
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The American family: Past and Present
The last decades of the XX century are marked by the unprecedented growth of interest in the study of family and marriage institutions. America’s family values are very important to their citizens. For many years the American family and its values have been one of the top priorities of the USA. The family is even an essential part of the «American Dream» that all the world is so fond of. The basic idea of success in America is measured by how well man or woman can provide for their family.
But what does the government and the society with family values? It determines these values and sets a standard for the whole of America’s people. Family values are of the highest importance to the American citizen.
Family values are basically the core of not only American but even Belorussian way of living. They have been important since, and even before, the very beginning of our civilization, and certainly since the founding of the United States of America. Many scientists suggest that even the primitive caveman was very loyal and respectful to his family. People of our time have followed these beginnings of the ideas of family values up until the present day.
Today however people are more separated in their lives but they all share similar values and views on the family. Even America itself with it’s «melting pot» functions like one family. Civilization, over time, has brought about values which have become essential to all. Family values have brought considerable amounts of happiness to any group of people of any stage of history. Without love and family we would probably be in worldwide chaos. And without family there even wouldn’t be world to live. People would only regard each other as just soulless beings, there would be no friends, lovers, or married people anywhere without family values.
All people desire family values, such as love, care, intimacy, acceptance, commitment, and shared responsibility. This is why people from all religious, political, and social groups are interested in making families.
Family life is very meaningful. For the greater common good a society must have adequate family values to prevent chaos. America seems to be gradually losing these very important values which are of immeasurable cost. This loss is due to a reduction of morals by society and a brainwashed acceptance of what is clearly wrong.
Failure to do so may result in an incalculable loss such as the destruction of a society that Americans have strived so long to build. This is one of the primary reasons or the fall of the Roman Empire. The loss of society’s values gradually weakened and disassociated them and very soon they were overran by a weaker power.
Family is the institute that holds not only American but even our society together. We have had them since the earliest society on our Earth. They have provided a clear outline for religious, social, and moral values throughout history. They have formed a basis for our governments and cultures. It is of the utmost importance that these values are preserved for the sake of society and the common good of all people.
Over the second half of the 20th century, American families underwent significant changes in composition and lifestyle. These changes correlated with new definitions of the American family. In growing numbers, families moved from rural areas to urban center or suburbs, and more women joined the workforce. Family size became smaller and more children were born to unmarried parents. As a result of these trends, American families of the 21st century are highly diverse, and can be compared by looking at a number of social and economic indicators.
In our research we will look at the families through examining the trends in marriage. On average, rates of marriage have decreased in the American population, though significant differences exist between groups depending on religious affiliation, ethnic background and income level. We will also compare family size. While population-level trends demonstrate a decrease in family size, the number of children in a household varies by region and cultural background. We will consider which population groups are having fewer children, and also examine trends in delayed childbirth. And of course we will try to look at the life of average American family and see the process of bringing children up, child case system and distribution household duties. After combining and comparing all the information together, we will consider major trends, problems and peculiarities of American families.
To make clear portrait of an average American family, different sources will be used: the works of sociologists and psychologists, newspaper articles and research from different scientific spheres, family-magazines and books.
The research will be divided into 3 sections. The first will deal with American marriage pattern, its types, statistics and trends among different social groups and ages. We took into consideration same-sex marriages because nowadays their number constantly grows not only in the USA but all over the world. Second section is devoted to the topic of marriage contract and divorce. We will look at the reasons of marriage and divorce and analyze the statistics of divorce and it’s impact on American people. Third section investigates the position of children in American family. Here we found information about the main trends among American teenagers, learned about some difficulties in their upbringing and saw how American government protects young citizens.
1. American marriage pattern
The term «marriage» derives from the Latin word «mas» meaning «male» or «masculine.» The earliest known use of the word in English dates from the thirteenth century.
In the early 1900s, social commentators often expressed concerns that long-term residents of the United States were not marrying, or were doing so at late ages. What many called «Race Suicide» reflected the wide disparity in the disparity regime of recent immigrants to the United States and the native stock, as well as fertility differentials. While concern regarding ethnic differences in age at marriage were strongly articulated at the turn of the century, as of mid-century such expressions were rare. By then, the American disparity regime had clearly changed. Both men and women married earlier, and relatively few remained unmarried. According to Gibson and Lennon the median age at marriage for men declined from 25.9 in 1900 to 22.8 by 1950; for women it decreased less sharply, falling from 21.9 to 20.3. The proportions never marrying also decreased. Whereas less than two-thirds of men and three-quarters of women born in the late 1880s ever married, that share declined to less than ten percent of men and women born after [3, p. 74].
Beginning in the 1960s a number of interrelated and mutually reinforcing economic, technological and cultural factors combined to accelerate and extend those changes in existing family features. These changes, and their demographic and social consequences, have raised considerable concern, if not panic, among some researchers and policy makers. Doom mongering about the dying Occident and the disintegration or even the end of the family have been advanced or discussed. Since the late 1960s, the rate of first marriages experienced by individuals aged fourteen and over has declined substantially in the United States. This pattern, which has been characteristic of both men and women and has been quite steady over time, has contributed to the increasing proportion of single young adults in the population. According to some researchers, these facts reflect changes in the timing of marriage, and not changes in its ultimate incidence. For example, according to professor Cherlin, «The higher proportion of single young adults in the 1970s and early 1980s suggests only that they are marrying later, not foregoing marriage». It is unlikely that their lifetime proportions marrying fall below the historical minimum. Indeed, the median age at first marriage increased by more than one year for both males and females during the 1970s [1, p. 24].
The end of the 20th century has witnessed remarkable changes in family structures and dynamics in North America: smaller household sizes, a further shift from extended to nuclear families, a decrease in nuptiality and an increase in separation or divorce, the appearance of new forms of unions such as unmarried cohabitation and living-apart-together, changing gender and intergenerational relations, and, last but not least, a substantial decrease in fertility, often to below-replacement levels.
First marriage continued to be postponed and so did age at first birth. More young people left the parental home to live some time on their own before cohabiting or marrying. This resulted in an increasing number of single person households of young adults. However, the age of leaving the parental home, after decreasing in the 1970s and 1980s, increased in the 1990s in some countries. The proportion of young adults (age group 25−29) still living in the parental home was particularly high (65 percent among men and 44 percent among women). In Central America those figures were much lower (25 percent for men and 11 percent for women). The same was true for the northern part of the United States (20 percent for men and 12 percent for women). This trend is explained by a number of factors, such as increased unemployment, longer studies, higher affluence and moral tolerance in the parental home and consequently less pressure to leave [6, p. 202].
Both in North America and in Western Europe postponed marriage is increasingly replaced or preceded by cohabitation or `Living-Apart-Together' (LAT) relations. Unmarried cohabitation is increasing, premarital as well as after separation, divorce or widowhood.
However in some American states such as Arkansas and Oklahoma, men and women marry young — half of first-time brides in these states were age 24 or younger on their wedding day. These states also have above-average shares of women who divorced in 2007−2008.
It’s the opposite state of affairs in Massachusetts and New York. Their residents marry late — half of ever-married New York men were older than age 30 when they first wed. These states also have below-average shares of men and women who divorced in 2007−2008.
Looking at numbers, Texas is the home to more thrice-married adults than any other state, about 428,000 women and 373,000 men. But that’s partly because it’s home to so many people. Looking at rates, about 6% of Texans who ever have been married have wed three times or more. That is similar to the national average (5%), but well below the leaders in this category — the neighboring states of Arkansas and Oklahoma — where about 10% of all ever-married adults have had at least three spouses [15, p. 74].
Meantime, back in New York and Massachusetts, just 2% of ever-married adults have been married at least three times, placing them at the bottom on this measure among the 50 states.
On the national level, the Census Bureau survey showed that a shrinking share of Americans are married 52% of males ages 15 and older and 48% of females ages 15 and older. The proportion of Americans who are currently married has been diminishing for decades and is lower than it has been in at least half a century. The age range used in research tabulations dates back to the days when more people married as young teenagers. Among Americans 18 and older, the proportion currently married, but not separated, is 55% for men and 50% for women [6, p. 94].
Nationally, the median age at first marriage has been climbing for decades: It now stands at 28 for men and 26 for women, meaning that half are younger and half are older when they wed. Among married Americans, the median duration of their married life in 2008 was 18 years. Among men, 9% are divorced; among women — 12%.
About 2.3 million men reported that they wed within the previous year, and 1.2 million said they divorced. About 2.2 million women said they wed and 1.3 million said they divorced. About one-in-twenty Americans who ever have been married said they had been married three or more times. That comes to 4 million men and 4.5 million women.
If we look deep into state marriage-pattern, we will see that when states are ranked on a variety of estimates, most are clustered closely near the median or average. But the range of values can vary widely, and some of the same states stand out as high or low in more than one category.
Several states in the Midwest and Mountain regions have among the highest shares of men and women who are currently married. In Idaho, 58% of men and 56% of women live with a spouse. In Iowa, 56% of men and 53% of women do. In Utah, 56% of both men and women are currently married. At the opposite end, only 47% of men in Alaska are currently married, as are 48% of women in that state. Among men in Rhode Island and New Mexico, 48% are married. Among women in Rhode Island and New York, 43% are [3, p. 74].
The District of Columbia ranks well below all states in its share of men and women currently married — 28% and 23%. Washington, D.C., is more like a city than a state in its characteristics, so it may not be appropriate to compare it with the 50 states [12, p. 91].
Looking at divorced adults, 13% of Nevada’s men and 16% of its women fit in that category, as do 12% of Maine’s men and 15% of its women. They are among the states with the largest shares of currently divorced residents, a distinction they share with Oklahoma [10, p. 137].
States with larger shares of the thrice-married tend to be states where people marry young, such as Arkansas and Oklahoma. However, one exception is Utah, which does not rank high for three-plus marriages, but whose residents have among the youngest median ages at first marriage: 24 for women and 26 for men.
Half the men in the District of Columbia, New York and Rhode Island are 30 years of age or older when they first marry. Half the women in Connecticut, Massachusetts and the District are 28 or older. These states rank low in the proportion of people who are married and also in the proportion of married adults who are on at least their third marriage.
States where people marry young also often have high rates of recent marriage, which is expressed as the number of marriages per 1,000 men or women within the previous 12 months. States with high rates of recent marriage include Utah (28 marriages per 1,000 women and nearly the same for men), Idaho and Arkansas. Alaska also ranks high on this measure [10, p. 584].
A similar measure — number of divorces within the previous 12 months per 1,000 women — tends to be high in states where women marry young, such as Oklahoma and Idaho. But the same link is not as strong for men: Alaska and Wyoming, for example, are among the top states for recently divorced men, but they are not states where men marry especially young [6, p. 107].
Some state-level patterns of marriage and divorce correlate with the overall socioeconomic characteristics and political behaviour in those states. This does not mean that one pattern causes the other to happen, only that both tend to be true in the same place.
A state’s education levels, for example, tend to be associated with the median age at marriage and the multiple-marriage patterns of its residents. In states with high shares of college-educated adults, men and women marry at older ages, a finding supported by other research indicating that highly educated individuals marry later in life. In states with low shares of college-educated adults, adults are more likely than average to marry three or more times. In states with low income levels, men are more likely than average to have been married three or more times.
1. 1 Interracial marriages in the USA
The differing ages of individuals, culminating in the generation divides, have traditionally played a large role in how mixed ethnic couples are perceived in American society.
For most of U.S. history, in most communities, such unions were taboo. Forty-five years after taking down a ban on interracial marriage, the rate of marriage across racial and ethnic lines in the United States is on the rise. Interracial marriage in the United States has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates. Multiracial Americans numbered 9.0 million in 2010, or 2. 9% of the total population, but 5. 6% of the population under age 18 [15, p. 108].
The number of interracial marriages has steadily continued to increase since the 1967, but also continues to represent an absolute minority among the total number of wed couples. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of interrracially married couples has increased from 310,000 in 1970 to 651,000 in 1980, to 964,000 in 1990, to 1,464,000 in 2000 and to 2,340,000 in 2008; accounting for 0. 7%, 1. 3%, 1. 8%, 2. 6% and 3. 9% of the total number of married couples in those years, respectively. [22, p. 64] These statistics do not take into account the mixing of ancestries within the same «race»; e.g. a marriage involving Indian and Japanese ancestries would not be classified as interracial due to the Census regarding both as the same category. Likewise, since Hispanic is not a race but an ethnicity, Hispanic marriages with non-Hispanics are not registered as interracial if both partners are of the same race (i.e. a Black Hispanic marrying a non-Hispanic Black partner) [10, p. 287].
A record 14. 6% of all new marriages in the United States in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another. This compares to 8. 0% of all current marriages regardless of when they occurred. This includes marriages between a Hispanic and non-Hispanic (Hispanics are an ethnic group, not a race) as well as marriages between spouses of different races — be they white, black, Asian, American Indian or those who identify as being of multiple races or some other race [11, p. 94].
White Americans were statistically the least likely to wed interracially, though in absolute terms they were involved in interracial marriages more than any other racial group due to their demographic majority. 2. 1% of married White women and 2. 3% of married White men had a non-White spouse. 1. 0% of all married White men were married to an Asian American woman, and 1. 0% of married White women were married to a man classified as «other» [3, p. 6].
4. 6% of married Black American women and 10. 8% of married Black American men had a non-Black spouse. 8. 5% of married Black men and 3. 9% of married Black women had a White spouse. 0. 2% of married Black women were married to Asian American men, representing the least prevalent marital combination [10, p. 448].
There is a notable disparity in the rates of exogamy by Asian American males and females. Of all Asian American/White marriages, only 29% involved an Asian American male and a White female. However Indian American males had higher outmarriage for males than females, although Indian Americans displayed the highest rates of endogamy, with very low levels of outmarriage overall. Of all Asian American/Black marriages only 19% involved an Asian American male and a Black female. 17. 5% of married Asian American women and 8. 2% of married Asian American men had a non-Asian American spouse.
1.2 Same-sex marriages in the USA
Same-sex marriage, a legally or socially recognizable union between two consenting adults of the same biological sex or social gender, has been under fire for many years. Since 2001, ten countries and other nation-states have begun to legally formalize same-sex marriages, including Argentina, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Mexico City, Spain, South Africa, and some regions within the United States. Same-sex marriages have varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, which has resulted in legislative changes of marriage laws in order to meet the constitutional demands of equality established by the Founding Fathers. Other opposing nations recognize same-sex marriages as a civil rights, political, social, moral, or religious taboo.
In the early 90s gay people started becoming vocal about the possibility of legalizing gay marriages. A lawsuit in Hawaii turned the country’s attention to the possibility of introducing same-sex marriages in the legislature. Despite this development, many states passed laws anyway against same-sex marriages, but when they did, Americans continued to keep an open mind about the issue. The younger groups were more receptive than their older counterparts. A handful of churches began to conduct same sex ceremonies and then by a stroke of luck, the legal system started to exhibit more tolerance [4, p. 113].
The state of Vermont, for example, ordered legal parity for gay and straight unions; the response was the growth of «civil unions» for gay people. Some countries in Europe have done the same, and in 2001 the Netherlands adopted a gay marriage law.
Same-sex marriage in the United States is still not recognized by the federal government, but such marriages are recognized by several individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Such licenses are granted by six states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and Oregon’s Coquille and Washington state’s Suquamish Indian tribes. The states of Washington and Maryland have passed laws in 2012 to begin granting same-sex marriage licenses, but each may be delayed or derailed by November 2012 voter referenda [11, p. 212].
Same-sex marriages could be legally performed in California between June 16, 2008, and November 4, 2008, after which voters passed Proposition 8 prohibiting same-sex marriages. California also recognizes any same-sex marriage from around the world that took place before that end date, while Maryland and Rhode Island recognize all same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The legalization of same-sex marriage has been achieved by court rulings and legislative action, but not through voter referendums. As of May 2012, with the passing of North Carolina’s gay marriage ban, 12 states prohibit same-sex marriage via statute and 30 via the state’s constitution [3, p. 48].
Same-sex marriage hasn’t been legal long enough to establish reliable statistics, and many statistics don’t separate gay or lesbian marriage from general marriage rates. Marriage rates have been dropping world wide since 1990. In America, the marriage rate dropped from 232,900 in 2000 to 217,800 in 2004.
Same-sex marriage, having been illegal for so long, takes a sharp rise wherever it is introduced. When San Francisco legalized same-sex marriage, 4,037 marriage licenses were issued and 3,995 gay couples were married in the several months before the state intervened and voided the marriages. In a review of the names of couples it was found 57% of the couples were lesbian. Demographic information also showed most of the couples were older and better educated than average newlywed couples, with more than 74% over 35 years old and 69% holding a college degree.
For the first six months after gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands, same-sex marriages made up 3. 6% of the total number of marriages. The numbers have steadily dropped since then to around 3%, with 2,500 couples marrying in 2001, 1,800 in 2002, 1,200 in 2004, and 1,100 in 2005.
In the 2010 census it was found that there were 835,146 committed same-sex couples in America.
In 2011 President Barack Obama defended his view that gay couples should have the right to marry, saying that the country has never gone wrong when it «expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody.» «That doesn’t weaken families. That strengthens families,» he told gay and lesbian supporters and others at a fundraiser hosted by singer Ricky Martin and the LGBT Leadership Council.
1. 3 Cohabitation as alternative to marriage
Cohabitation, once rare, is now the norm: The researchers found that more than half (54 percent) of all first marriages between 1990 and 1994 began with unmarried cohabitation. They estimate that a majority of young men and women of marriageable age today will spend some time in a cohabiting relationship. Cohabiting relationships are less stable than marriages and that instabililty is increasing, the study found.
A study was made of premarital cohabitation of women who are in a monogamous relationship. The study showed women who are committed to one relationship, who have both premarital sex and cohabit only with the man they eventually marry, have no higher incidence of divorce than women who abstain from premarital sex and cohabitation. For women in this category cohabitation with their eventual husband are just two more steps in developing a committed, long-term relationship. Teachman’s findings report instead that «It is only women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship who have an elevated risk of marital disruption. This effect is strongest for women who have multiple premarital coresidental unions. «
A scientific survey of over 1,000 married men and women in the United States of America found those who moved in with a lover before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater possibility for splitting up than other couples. About 20 percent of those who cohabited before getting engaged had since suggested divorce — compared with only 12 percent of those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10 percent who did not cohabit prior to the wedding bells [16, p. 216].
Psychologist Dr Galena Rhoades said: «There might be a subset of people who live together before they got engaged who might have decided to get married really based on other things in their relationship — because they were already living together and less because they really wanted and had decided they wanted a future together. Some couples who move in together without a clear commitment to marriage may wind up sliding into marriage partly because they are already cohabiting» [20, p. 109].
Some people have claimed that those who live together before marriage can report having less satisfying marriages and have a higher chance of separating. A possible explanation for this trend could be that people who cohabit prior to marriage did so because of apprehension towards commitment, and when, following marriage, marital problems arose (or, for that matter, before marriage, when relationship problems arose during the cohabitation arrangement), this apprehension was more likely to translate into an eventual separation. It should be noted this model cites antecedent apprehension concerning commitment as the cause of increased break-ups and cohabitation only as an indicator of such apprehension. Another explanation is that those who choose not to cohabit prior to marriage are often more conservative in their religious views and may hold more traditional views on gender roles, a mindset that might prevent them from divorcing for religious reasons or confronting crisis in relationships despite experiencing marital problems no less severe than those encountered by former cohabitants [1, p. 104].
In addition, the very act of living together may lead to attitudes that make happy marriages more difficult. The findings of one recent study, for example, suggest «there may be less motivation for cohabiting partners to develop their conflict resolution and support skills.» (One important exception: cohabiting couples who are already planning to marry each other in the near future have just as good a chance at staying together as couples who don’t live together before marriage).
A 2001 study of 1,000 US adults indicated that people who cohabited experienced a divorce rate 50% higher after marriage than those who did not, though this may be correlation and not cause-and-effect. A subsequent study performed by the National Center for Health Statistics with a sample size of over 12,000 individuals found that there was no significant difference in divorce rate between cohabitating and non-cohabitating individuals [16, p. 24].
In most parts of the United States, there is no legal registration or definition of cohabitation, so demographers have developed various methods of identifying cohabitation and measuring its prevalence. The most important of these is the Census Bureau, which currently describes an «unmarried partner» as a «person age 15 years and over, who is not related to the householder, who shares living quarters, and who has a close personal relationship with the householder.
In 2001, in the United States 8. 2% of couples were calculated to be cohabiting, the majority of them in the West Coast and New England/Northeastern United States areas [18, p. 143].
In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 4. 85 million cohabiting couples, up more than ten times from 1960, when there were 439,000 such couples. The 2002 National Survey of Family Growth found that more than half of all women aged 15 to 44 have lived with an unmarried partner, and that 65% of American couples who did cohabitate got married within 5 years [4, pp. 99−100].
The cohabiting population is inclusive of all ages, but the average cohabiting age group is between 25−34.
As we can see from the given information, the marriage pattern in the USA is rather diverse: some social groups prefer to stay single or cohabitate, others make families later or earlier. The topic of investigating American marriage pattern remains open and more detailed analysis can give a definite picture of marriages in the USA.
2. Marriage contract and divorce
The family is not a static institution. In recent years, marriage rates have fallen, divorce rates have risen, and the defining characteristics of marriage have changed. The economic approach to the family seeks to explain these trends by reference to models that can also explain how and why families form. Gary Becker’s 1981 Treatise on the Family proposed a theory based on «production complementarities», in which husband and wife specialize in the market and domestic spheres, respectively, and hence are more productive together than apart. Production complementarities also arise in the production and rearing of one’s own children. However, production complementarities at least as initially described are decreasingly central to modern family life. Increased longevity and declining fertility mean that most of one’s adult life is spent without one’s own children in the household, and the rise in marital formation at older ages, including re-marriage, means that many families form with no intention of producing children. Moreover, increases in female labor force participation suggest that household specialization has either declined or taken on a different meaning.
These changes have come about as what is produced in the home has been dramatically altered both by the emergence of labor-saving technology in the home and by the development of service industries that allow much of what was once provided by specialized homemakers to be purchased in the market. The availability of birth control and abortion has affected the potential consequences of sex both in and out of marriage, while changes in divorce laws have altered the terms of the marital bargain. These forces also have important feedback effects, changing the pool of marriageable singles across the age distribution, thereby affecting search, marriage, remarriage, and the extent of «churning» in the marriage market [10, p. 347].
Social and economic factors strongly influence the marriage market. Marriage rates rose during, and in the wake of, the two World Wars and fell during the Great Depression. The divorce rate fell during the Depression and spiked following World War II.
Developments since the 1960s appear to reflect more subtle influences, and have been the focus of heated political debate as the heyday of marriage gave way to rapid social change. Divorce rates rose sharply, doubling between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. During this period, family life was potentially altered by many factors: the rise of the women’s liberation movement, the sexual revolution, the Supreme Court’s granting of marriage as a «fundamental» right under the U. S [18, p. 215].
Constitution and thus the abolition of laws restricting marriage between races, the elimination in many states of fault-based divorce, and a sharp rise in women’s labor force participation. Yet when viewed over the longer time period, we see that while the 1970s had exceptionally high divorce rates, the low divorce rates in previous decades were also somewhat exceptional. Fitting a simple line to the divorce rate between 1860 and 1945 (excluding the post-World War II surge in divorce), suggests that some of the run-up in divorce in the latter third of the 20th century reflects the divorce rate reverting to levels consistent with earlier trends, following unusually low divorce in the 1950s and early 1960s. Indeed, based on extrapolation, family scholars as early as the turn of the last century had predicted future divorce rates like those actually witnessed in the 1980s. While the 1970s overshot the trend, the subsequent fall in divorce has put the divorce rate back on the trend-line and by 2005 the annual divorce rate projected by the pre-1946 trend is quite close to actual divorce rates.
The divorce rate per thousand people actually peaked in 1981, and has been declining over the ensuing quarter century. The divorce rate in 2005 — 3.6 divorces per thousand people — is at its lowest level since 1970. The number of people entering marriage, as a proportion of the population, in the U.S. has also been falling for the past 25 years, and the marriage rate is currently at its lowest point in recorded history [10, p. 572].
Marriage rates rose as the divorce rate rose, but reached an earlier peak in 1972. Yet even when measuring the number of divorces relative to the «at-risk population» (that is, those who are currently married), it can be noticed a similar decline in the divorce rate over the last 25 years falling from a peak of 22.8 divorces per 1,000 married couples in 1979 to 16.7 divorces in 2005. The sustained decline in divorce over the past quarter century provides an ideal testing ground for assessing the validity of alternative theories of why the divorce rate rose in the late 1960s and into the 1970s; unfortunately, such tests are mostly absent from the existing literature [4, p. 39].
To asses the reasons of marriage and divorce, it necessary to look at material conditions of different generations and decades when marriage occurred. For those marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, it is known a lot about their eventual outcomes, and the figure clearly shows that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort until the 1970s. For marriages that occurred in the 1970s, 48 percent had dissolved within 25 years [5, p. 34].
Confirming for this specific cohort the popular claim that «half of all marriages end in divorce.» Yet for first marriages that occurred in the 1980s, the proportion that had dissolved by each anniversary was consistently lower, and it is lower again for marriages that occurred in the 1990s. While it will take several more decades for the long-term fate of recent marriages to be realized, it appears likely that fewer than half of these recent marriages will dissolve.
Much of the concern over the high divorce rates in the 1970s stemmed from the impact of divorce on children. Indeed, as divorce rose in the 1960s and 1970s so too did the number of children involved in each divorce. In the 1950s, the average divorce involved 0. 78 children; by 1968 that number had risen to 1. 34. However, since 1968, the average number of children involved in each divorce has fallen dramatically, and in 1995 the average was 0. 91, only slightly above the 1950 average. Similar patterns are evidence in data on the proportion of divorces that involve any children. While the collection of detailed national divorce statistics ceased in 1995, recent data from individual states suggest that the number of children involved in divorce has continued to decline over the subsequent decade [20, p. 194].
The statistics of the 21st century shows increasing number of divorces among all social and age groups. All the reasons mentioned above continue to play huge negative impact on marriage institution in America.
In 2008 35% of first marriages among women aged 15−44 were disrupted (ended in separation, divorce or annulment) within 10 years. Beyond the 10-year window, population survey data is lacking, but forecasts and estimates provide some understanding. It is commonly claimed that half of all marriages in the United States eventually end in divorce, an estimate possibly based on the fact that in any given year, the number of marriages is about twice the number of divorces. Using 1995 data, National Survey of Family Growth forecast in 2002 a 43% chance that first marriages among women aged 15−44 would be disrupted within 15 years. More recently, having spoken with academics and National Survey of Family Growth representatives, sociologists estimated in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50% [9, p. 45].
Divorce rates have been dropping during the last few decades. Data indicates that marriages have lasted longer in the 21st century than they did in the 1990s.
A 2011 study at the University of Iowa found that having intimate relations before age 18 was correlated with a greater number of occurrences of divorce within the first 10 years of marriage.
A 2008 study by Jenifer L. Bratter and Rosalind B. King conducted on behalf of the Education Resources Information Center examined whether crossing racial boundaries increased the risk of divorce. Using the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, the likelihood of divorce for interracial couples to that of same-race couples was compared. Comparisons across marriage cohorts revealed that, overall, interracial couples have higher rates of divorce, particularly for those that married during the late 2000s. The authors found that gender plays a significant role in interracial divorce dynamics: According to the adjusted models predicting divorce as of the 10th year of marriage, interracial marriages that are the most vulnerable involve White females and non-White males (with the exception of White females/Hispanic White males) relative to White/White couples. White wife/Black husband marriages are twice as likely to divorce by the 10th year of marriage compared to White/White couples, while White wife/Asian husband marriages are 59% more likely to end in divorce compared to White/White unions. Conversely, White men/non-White women couples show either very little or no differences in divorce rates. Asian wife/White husband marriages show only 4% greater likelihood of divorce by the 10th year of marriage than White/White couples. In the case of Black wife/White husband marriages, divorce by the 10th year of marriage is 44% less likely than among White/White unions. Intermarriages that did not cross a racial barrier, which was the case for White/Hispanic White couples, showed statistically similar likelihoods of divorcing as White/White marriages [1, p. 84].
It`s possible to make some conclusions on the basis of given information. First, the proportion married at each age has been surprisingly stable over more than a century; the pattern in 1980, for instance, is remarkably similar to that in 1880.
Second, divorces in the 1960s were unusual, reflecting not only more marriage, but earlier marriage.
Third, the data for 2000 suggest a very different pattern, with marriage less prevalent among young adults, but more prevalent among those at older ages. This trend toward rising age at first marriage represents both a return to, and a departure from, earlier patterns. The return to earlier patterns is the later age at which men first marry; in 1890, the median age at which men first married was 26, declining to 23 by the mid-1950s, and then returning to 27 in 2004. The departure is that the age gap between men and women has declined through the past century, with the median age at which women first marry rising from 22 in 1890 to 26 in 2004.
Fourth fact is that in American divorce statistics exists shrinking gap between the ages of husbands and wives: those over 65 are now much more likely to be married than at any other time in the past. In fact, those over 65 are now as likely to be married as are those aged 16 to 65. The larger proportion of people married at older ages reflects greater life expectancy for both men and women and a decreasing gap in the difference between men’s and women’s life expectancy. Additionally, some of this increase in the proportion of those over 65 who are married stems from an increase in the proportion marrying at older ages, with these later-age marriages potentially being facilitated by a thicker remarriage market in recent decades that allowed greater remarriage following either divorce or the death of a spouse.
This changing age profile of marriage also points to the declining role of fertility and child-rearing in married life. In 1880, 75% of married people lived in a household in which their own children were present. That proportion has fallen steadily over the past 125 years, and by 2005 only 41% of married people had their own children present in their household. This dramatic shift reflects the confluence of many factors, including declining fertility, increased longevity, increasing rates of marriage at later, post-childbearing ages, rising non-marital births, and rising divorce.
2.3 Aftereffects of divorce for American families
It may be helpful to understand a little about divorce and the typical effects it has on men, women and children. As it’s seen from the previous chapter the level of divorces in the United States is extremely high. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of all second marriages end in divorce. As high as these figures are, what is also true is that the divorce rate appears to be dropping. The reasons for this change are not clear. Many people cannot afford to divorce, many people cannot afford to marry. Another reason is that «baby boomers,» who account for a large proportion of american population are no longer in their 20s and 30s, the ages when divorce is most prevalent. The societal expectation is that divorced life is less satisfying than married life. Divorce is associated with an increase in depression — people experience loss of partner, hopes and dreams, and lifestyle. The financial reality of divorce is often hard to comprehend: the same resources must now support almost twice the expenses.
Fifty percent of all children are children of divorce. Twenty-eight percent of all children are born of never married parents. Divorce is expensive. Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) resources are drained by the needs of divorced and single parent families; including the cost of collecting child support.
In this chapter the speaking will be about impacts of the divorce for men, women and children. We will start our analysis with the impact of divorce on women, because, as a rule, her role is the nuclear in any family.
First of all women initiate divorce twice as often as men and 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children (even if they did not receive it in court). 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children.
Single mothers support up to four children on an average after-tax annual income of $ 12,200. 65% divorced mothers receive no child support (figure based on all children who could be eligible, including never-married parents, when fathers have custody, and parents without court orders); 75% receive court-ordered child support (and rising since inception of uniform child support guidelines, mandatory garnishment and license renewal suspension) [9, pp. 88−89].
After divorce, women experience less stress and better adjustment in general than do men. The reasons for this are that women are more likely to notice marital problems and to feel relief when such problems end. Women are also more likely than men to rely on social support systems and help from others. And women are more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem when they divorce and add new roles to their lives.
Women who work and place their children in child care experience a greater stigma than men in the same position. Men in the same position often attract support and compassion.
In comparison with women, average American man remarries more quickly than woman. But men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women. The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection, reduced finances, and the common interruption of the parental role [19, p. 55].
As compared to «deadbeat dads,» men who have shared parenting (joint legal custody), ample time with their children, and an understanding of and direct responsibility for activities and expenses of children stay involved in their children’s lives and are in greater compliance with child support obligations. There is also a greater satisfaction with child support amount when negotiated in mediation. Budgets are prepared, and responsibility divided in a way that parents understand.
And in comparison with women, American men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in attempting to salvage the marriage.
In the last few years, higher-quality research which has allowed the «meta-analysis» of previously published research, has shown the negative effects of divorce on children have been greatly exaggerated. We know that children of divorce suffered from depression, failed in school, and got in trouble with the law. Children with depression and conduct disorders showed indications of those problems predivorce because there was parental conflict. Researchers now view conflict, rather than the divorce or residential schedule, as the single most critical determining factor in children’s post-divorce adjustment. The children who succeed after divorce, have parents who can communicate effectively and work together as parents.
Actually, children’s psychological reactions to their parents' divorce vary in degree dependent on three factors: the quality of their relationship with each of their parents before the separation; the intensity and duration of the parental conflict; and the parents' ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.
Older studies showed boys had greater social and academic adjustment problems than girls. New evidence indicates that when children have a hard time, boys and girls suffer equally; they just differ in how they suffer. Boys are more externally symptomatic than girls, they act out their anger, frustration and hurt. They may get into trouble in school, fight more with peers and parents. Girls tend to internalize their distress. They may become depressed, develop headaches or stomach aches, and have changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.
A drop in parents' income often caused by the same income now supporting two households directly affects children over time in terms of proper nutrition, involvement in extracurricular activities, clothing (no more designer jeans and fancy shoes), and school choices. Sometimes a parent who had stayed home with the children is forced into the workplace and the children experience an increase in time in child care.
A child’s continued involvement with both of his or her parents allows for realistic and better balanced future relationships. Children learn how to be in relationship by their relationship with their parents. If they are secure in their relationship with their parents, chances are they will adapt well to various time-sharing schedules and experience security and fulfillment in their intimate relationships in adulthood. In the typical situation where mothers have custody of the children, fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are also the fathers whose child support is paid and who contribute to extraordinary expenses for a child: things like soccer, music lessons, the prom dress, or a special class trip. One important factor which contributes to the quality and quantity of the involvement of a father in a child’s life is mother’s attitude toward the child’s relationship with father. When fathers leave the marriage and withdraw from their parenting role as well, they report conflicts with the mother as the major reason [11, p. 302].
The impact of father or mother loss is not likely to be diminished by the introduction of stepparents. No one can replace Mom or Dad. And no one can take away the pain that a child feels when a parent decides to withdraw from their lives. Before embarking on a new family, it`s necessary to do some reading on the common myths of step families. Often parents assume that after the remarriage «we will all live as one big happy family.» Step family relationships need to be negotiated, expectations need to be expressed, roles need to be defined, realistic goals need to be set.
Most teenagers (and their parents) eventually adjust to divorce and regard it as having been a constructive action, but one-third do not. In those instances, the turbulence of the divorce phase (how adversarial a battle it is), has been shown to play a crucial role in creating unhealthy reactions in affected teenagers.ПоказатьСвернуть