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ERIC Number: EJ1079378
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1054-8289
One Nation, Divided: Culture, Civic Institutions, and the Marriage Divide
Wilcox, W. Bradford; Wolfinger, Nicholas H.; Stokes, Charles E.
Future of Children, v25 n2 p111-127 Fall 2015
Since the 1960s, the United States has witnessed a dramatic retreat from marriage, marked by divorce, cohabitation, single parenthood, and lower overall marriage rates. Marriage is now less likely to anchor adults' lives or provide a stable framework for childrearing, especially among poor and working-class Americans. Much research on the retreat from marriage has focused on its economic foundations. Bradford Wilcox, Nicholas Wolfinger, and Charles Stokes take a different tack, exploring cultural factors that may have contributed to the retreat from marriage and the growing class divide in marriage. These include growing individualism and the waning of a family-oriented ethos, the rise of a "capstone" model of marriage, and the decline of civil society. These cultural and civic trends have been especially consequential for poorer American families. Yet if we take into account cultural factors like adolescent attitudes toward single parenthood and the structure of the family in which they grew up, the authors find, the class divide in nonmarital childbearing among U.S. young women is reduced by about one-fifth. For example, compared to their peers from less-educated homes, adolescent girls with college-educated parents are more likely to hold marriage-friendly attitudes and to be raised in an intact, married home, factors that reduce their risk of having a child outside of marriage. Wilcox, Wolfinger, and Stokes conclude by outlining public policy changes and civic and cultural reforms that might strengthen family life and marriage across the country, especially among poor and working-class families.
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. 267 Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Tel: 609-258-6979; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
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