The decline of marriage
For richer, for smarter
The traditional family is now the preserve of a minority
Jun 23rd 2011 | SEATTLE | from The Economist print edition
MARRIAGE, and its many ups and downs, still exercises a powerful hold over newspapers, magazines and the airwaves. Nearly 23m Americans watched Prince William being joined in holy matrimony to Kate Middleton. Millions more have wallowed in the break-up of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s marriage after revelations that he fathered a son with a maid. And the tumescent tweets of congressman Anthony Weiner have stirred up endless speculation about the health of his own year-old marriage and the forbearance of his newly pregnant wife.
婚姻、婚姻里的悲欢离合仍然强有力地占据着报纸、杂志的版面和广播电视的节目。近2300万美国人收看了威廉王子迎娶凯特•米德尔顿(Kate Middleton)的神圣婚礼。更有数百万人因阿诺德•施瓦辛格与女管家育有一个私生子被曝光而离婚一事感慨不已。而国会议员安东尼 温纳(Anthony Weiner)在微博上上传自己勃起内裤照片后激起无数人猜测他刚刚才一年的婚姻是否良好、他最近怀孕的妻子是否容忍他的行为。
Less titillating are revelations about the sorry state of marriage across the United States. Data from the Census Bureau show that married couples, for the first time, now make up less than half (45%) of all households.
The iconic American family, with mom, dad and kids under one roof, is fading. In every state the numbers of unmarried couples, childless households and single-person households are growing faster than those comprised of married people with children, finds the 2010 census. The latter accounted for 43% of households in 1950; they now account for just 20%. And the trend has a potent class dimension. Traditional marriage has evolved from a near-universal rite to a luxury for the educated and affluent.