Is the poor economy the real reason behind fewer marriages?

An analysis of new U.S. Census data shows a rising tide of poverty among working-class single parents, especially among women without college degrees.

The implications, revealed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis, may threaten the long-term prosperity of middle-class families and the heft they provide to the economy, with marriage disappearing as a norm, especially among those who have children.

To some experts, the real problem is a decades-long collapse of job opportunities that is driving decisions of whether to tie or untie the knot.

“What is happening is the kinds of jobs that used to allow people with a high school education to make marriage work are very hard to find,” said Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University. “They’ve either gone overseas or disappeared into computer chips. And the Great Recession has made matters worse.”

Hard times, like jobs,  come and go, and come back. Is the troubled economy really breaking marriages up, or is it being used as a convenient  excuse to walk away from commitment to family?

Christopher Seward

32 comments Add your comment


October 28th, 2011
11:48 am

My Husband & I recently got married and we’re not worried about this economy and it’s not putting a strain on our marriage. We’re just TRUSTING GOD to supply our needs…#trustGod :-)


October 28th, 2011
11:55 am

Straight people getting divorced is the biggest assault on the “sanctity of marriage”. The fewer straight people that get married, the fewer that will get divorced… and, the sanctity of marriage will be saved!

Happily Married in the Recession

October 28th, 2011
12:06 pm

I can understand how losing a job can take a psychological and economic toll on a person and any relationships he/she is in. Economic problems are one of the leading causes of divorces. However, I can’t agree with all of the analysis of this data–having a college degree does not necessarily lead to a happy, successful marriage. Nor does having a college degree guarantee getting a good paying job any more. I married after college, and both my husband and I pursued graduate degrees. That was the most miserable nine years of my life. I am now married to a wonderful man who started college in his 30s to get a degree and start a new career after losing his good paying job. We couldn’t be happier, and our marriage couldn’t be more stable even if our economic situation varies month to month due to the nature of the jobs he can get (a) having been unemployed and (b) going to school full time.


October 28th, 2011
12:22 pm

I believe it is being used as a convenient excuse to walk away from commitment to family. People will look for and use any excuse to not make a commitment to another person. That’s just a poor excuse. A persons’ education level has nothing what so ever to do with it either.


October 28th, 2011
12:25 pm

R.J.’s Wife: AMEN! I totally agree with what you said! I pray that your marriage will last the rest of you and your husbands’ life. May God Bless your union :)


October 28th, 2011
1:14 pm

Doesnt make sense to me. You would think teaming up and working together would insulate you from a lot of financial strain. Even if something happens you have backup. I think it’s just a lot of the 99% of women holding out for the fantasy of marrying the 1% of men. A lot of good men out there that go to work everyday looking for a woman to marry.


October 28th, 2011
1:17 pm

When my dad was on strike and walking a picket line my mom didn’t go in on him and add to his stress. She said there were times she had to walk the picket line in his place. I wish I could find and marry a supportive woman like that. Whatever happens she has my back. It is to dream….


October 28th, 2011
1:38 pm

Thank you soooooo much SAMANTHA…God Bless You!


October 28th, 2011
1:45 pm

There are a lot of hard working women out there looking for someone to marry, because that is what mothers teach daughters to do. In a survey they found that 95% of women go to college to find an educated husband, not for a career for themselves. Men on the other hand, once they get hurt by a woman in their early life, never forget it, and never put all their eggs in one basket again. They are reluctant to give their all again, but want the conveinences of marriage.

mystery poster

October 28th, 2011
2:05 pm

@ Mitzymy “In a survey they found that 95% of women go to college to find an educated husband, not for a career for themselves.”

Was that survey done in 1950?

mystery poster

October 28th, 2011
2:05 pm

I think people are getting married less not because they are “afraid” of commitment, but because they do not feel as if they need a piece of paper to be committed to each other.


October 28th, 2011
2:29 pm

Recession or not, it’s difficult finding a successful, educated, single, straight man to marry – yet alone date. Like Mitzymy stated, I went to college to find a husband – not a career (this was in the mid ’90s). I didn’t find the husband, but I got a degree and then went to graduate school. I am now a successful, educated, ambitious woman, but I would have gladly given it all up to have met a wonderful man to marry and spend my life with.

jane Balfour

October 28th, 2011
3:55 pm

It is insane to marry – it only supports the outrageously expensive divorce lawyers – $3000+ for a simple divorce and the lawyer screwed that up.


October 28th, 2011
4:17 pm

If you cannot commit to a marriage “in these times of trouble”, please don’t keep having kids.

I don’t want to have to support them because you cannot.

The Baroness

October 29th, 2011
1:12 pm

@fairshare……100% agree with you!


October 29th, 2011
2:20 pm

I’ve often heard the phrase “two can live cheaper than one”. I think it might be more expensive to get a divorce today because of the economy. But assuming both parties are employed when they want to marry or already married, how does that make it more expensive to be married?

Max Overdrive

October 29th, 2011
2:22 pm

Men, marry and average American woman, have all the normal things like a new SUVs, nice house, vacations, going out to eat 3-6 nights a week etc then unfortunately you loose your job & have a difficult time finding a job that makes equal pay; you will see in time how long she stands by your side when the material things are then hard to come by! I have seen it three times now in the last year. As for me, I am single & happy.


October 29th, 2011
2:43 pm

That is a great question. I really like it. Marriage is as popular now as ever. The differnce is that married people no longer see marriage as a lifetime committment.
I think married couples see marriage as an adventure, giving it 5 years to see if it is going to work out. I think this is good . Happine ss should be the goal, not how long you can tough out seeing the same one every day year in and year out. Now, some of you may disagree with me partiularly if your spouse is nearby. “But in your heart you know I am right.” A 5 year marriage agreement with an option to renew is my alternative, this is the wave of the future.

Bob Walters

October 29th, 2011
5:12 pm

So many women use wealth as a measure of worthiness of marriage. Is it any wonder then that with men being hit harder than women by this recession, that marriage wouldn’t decline?


October 29th, 2011
5:49 pm

My wife and I are approaching our 25th anniversary. We’ve been mostly poor the whole time and working our butts off to make ends meet. We’ve raised 3 kids and 2 are in college via scholarships and grants!! So this recession, while worse than the others, is not our 1st and probably won’t be our last. It hasn’t been a perfect marriage, just better than most apparently! We call each other at least 5-10 times a day..just because we still find each other’s voice the most calming & reassuring influence in our lives.
At night, the economy doesn’t matter. We’re best friends; sleep is also our friend now too! But sometimes, at night, we just plain don’t sleep at all! Marriage is what you make it. If the 2 of you are totally & deeply committed to 1 another full time 24X7, divorce is what happens to someone else.

Ricco Pitts

October 29th, 2011
5:58 pm

I was invested big time in real estate and for many many years did well. Whenever I made money It went into the family pot so that all of us could have. My wife has a good job and always was banking money back just for her. I never paid it any mind because I was doing so well and we were happy. When real estate went south so did the love and respect of my family. I am now told it was a mistake to invest in real estate and I am nothing but a fool. Now I sit home alone, no money, while my wife is out on the town. Tonight it is just me and the dog. I am greatfull for the dog, she loves me with or without money. I don’t think I will ever be able to trust and love anyone agan for the rest of my short life.Other than by dog, Luckly


October 29th, 2011
7:19 pm

Thirty years ago I made a vow to my husband for “better or worse” and in “sickness and in health” “forsaking all others until death do us part.” I have watched my husband work so hard to support our family and I admire, respect and love him for it. We have had our tough times over the years – a child with special needs and an illness that was very difficult on our family. We have not always had a lot of money. I don’t expect my husband to make me happy 24/7. I do expect him to help supply our needs – not always the wants though. I encourage women to understand that good men want to help their families and make their wives happy. We need to stop putting more and more pressure on our husbands to supply our constant changing wants. Also, I encourage young men to step up to the plate and take on the responsibilities of a good man – to marry a good woman, work, and provide for a family. Faith and commitment have been the cornerstones of our marriage. If it were not for both, I might have thrown in the towel a long time ago when times got tough. Now I look back at the tough times and realize we have a tract record of coming through some very challenging times. I thank my husband for standing by me. I don’t know what life holds next but I do know we will fight together for our family.


October 29th, 2011
9:10 pm

My husband and I have been married 28 yrs. We have had good years and bad years, but we put our faith in God. At this time, my husband is unemployed and I am the bread winner. He cooks all our meals, does the grocery shopping, pays the bills, cleans the house. Each morning, he prepares my lunch while I get ready for work. He starts my car for me. On Saturday, he fills my car with gas. He brings me breakfast in bed on Saturday and Sunday morning. Every Friday, he changes the sheets on our bed. He also does all the yard work. So even though he can ‘t find employment now, he makes my life so much easier.

Why did u get married?

October 29th, 2011
9:35 pm

It depends on why you got married? Some truly marry to build a life together…others for financial…well when the economy goes bad the reason why you got married in the first place makes the decision on it’s future…


October 29th, 2011
9:48 pm

Obamageddon has resulted in fewer marriages, fewer births, more suicides, shorter life expectancy, and poorer health for Americans.

But as along as progressives feel better about themselves, that is all that matters.


October 29th, 2011
11:05 pm

RJ’s Wife you best not put your trust in Him or God but put your trust IN YOUR SKILLS, stay in a job and push your own career.

joe smith

October 30th, 2011
10:48 am

keep god out of it – if you’re either poor, or can’t make a marriage work – the only person to blame is who you see in the mirror. if you’re poor and can’t manage a healthy relationship – you’re a real winner in life…….


October 30th, 2011
11:39 am

Wow, real nonsense, you sound like a decent, loving man that any woman would be happy to “open her legs for”! Oh, and it’s “really”, not “rally”, “ass” not “azz”, and only one period is needed between sentences but you are supposed to capitalize the first letter of each sentence.

oh waits, wuz you trying to sound all “urban badazz”…..rally, how dumbazz of me…not my fault…gots ta go open my legs for money now cuz i be a ho like all dumbazz wimmens….


October 30th, 2011
12:45 pm

The economy has nothing to do with the downfall of marriage! If you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?


October 30th, 2011
1:04 pm

Fewer marriages, least educated, lowest family/individual income, crime, out of wedlock births, multiple children (most by different males), incarcerated, generational goverment dependents — pretty well describes the entitlement seeking democratic voting base!!!

Max Overdrive

October 30th, 2011
3:01 pm

“The economy has nothing to do with the downfall of marriage! If you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?”

People have been screwing each other for thousands of years but since basically the 1970s no fault divorce can available for everyone easily. Many people have been divorced at least once, not sure what the statistic is but probably 50+% and many people have been “scared” off of marriage. Second marriage failures are probably like 65%.

If you were going to take a trip on an airplane and they told you there was a 50% chance of crashing, would you still go?


October 30th, 2011
5:57 pm

RJs WIFE: God bless you for your firm declaration in TRUSTING GOD. What happend to America is her disregard for GOD and the majority acts like almighty God to solve their problems and the
country’s economic problems. With our limited knowledge and power, we can’t do anything and we are totally helpless to change the situation. Until we truthfully and humbly call upon
GOD to change the situation, we are sinking deeply into far greater
trouble. I get the worst headache when people say ” MOTHER NATURE”.
GOD created the nature, but people have created a new “idol” called
“mother nature”. Turn back to GOD for HIS mercy upon us.