Pick one: Marriage culture or government culture

The University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project came out with a fascinating report (“When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America by Brad Wilcox“) showing that marriage in America is becoming something of an elite institution, reserved for older individuals. Wealthy white people are getting married and having strong marriages. Other folks less so. Far less so. Delayed marriage has both costs and benefits. It’s worked out well for elite women and helped them have more career advancement. But the failure to marry has had some serious destabilizing effects on non-elite women. The report notes:

“Marriage is a middle-class institution that provides stability and security for family life against the hustle of the market and the bustle of a dynamic society. Indeed, as Tocqueville famously observed, Americans have traditionally embraced marriage more fervently than have Europeans because we need it as a bulwark against the individualism and entrepreneurialism that pervades our society and economy.” …

It’s pretty simple, really. It may be popular to pretend that women and men are identical, but women and the children they love are the most vulnerable to the downsides of a culture where marriage is delayed or forgotten. We bear far more economic risk and suffer through the deleterious effects of instability. Women in strong marriages tend to have their basic needs cared for by their own family unit and the civil society closest to them. Women who are not in strong marriages rely on the government. Voting patterns reflect how women’s incentives change with changes in their marital status.