“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?



The New York Times has a story on Marriage Markets, a new book on the failure of marriage as lower classes find the legal system expensive, punitive, and unhelpful:

Two professors of family law, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, have written a crisp and cogent account — rich with detail and utterly free of legalese — of America’s failure to invest in its children.

Their book, “Marriage Markets,” asserts that this failure lies not only in public policy but also in the private lives of Americans. Marriage, the time-honored way of fostering the interests of children, no longer works for many Americans. In an economy ruptured by increasing inequality, millions of men and women are deciding that marriage imposes obligations that they cannot meet. Nearly half of all marriages fail; more than 40 percent of American children are born to single mothers.

This is not a romantic book. Professor Carbone, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, and Professor Cahn, of George Washington University, describe picking a marriage partner as a high-stakes negotiation to find the most promising person, both emotionally and financially, for a lifelong commitment. It is a contract that comes with rights and responsibilities defined and enforced by law.

On the top rungs of American life, the upper 30 percent, marriage still serves as well as ever, if not better, the authors note. “The elite do not lead the way out of marriage,” they write. “They are too busy buying back into it.”

The pill long ago took fear out of premarital sex, and this best serves the college-educated by permitting a couple to delay having children while both parties mature and pursue lucrative careers, the book says. When two professionals eventually tie the knot, they cement an advantage for themselves and their children.

As things now stand, the authors say, only the upper tiers of Americans have the money and time to reasonably hope that their offspring will succeed. The situation is the most dire at the bottom of the economic ladder, where marriage “has all but disappeared in the poorest communities” — though not from a lack of respect for it, the authors say. Both men and women see marriage as highly desirable, but a goal far beyond their means, like a second home at the beach.

The future of marriage in America will be decided in the broad middle class, where it is already in doubt, the authors contend. Divorce is more common than it is among the elite, but women stick with men, in or out of marriage, much longer than they do on the lower rungs. Still, marriage for the middle is teetering toward a point where it, too, may dry up and leave weddings as another rite reserved for the elite.

The realities eroding marriage are no secret. Recent decades have brought far better career opportunities for women, except among the very poorest. Most women do not need to endure an abysmal marriage because they see no way to earn a living. And, not surprisingly, a working-class woman with a decent job won’t commit to a man who can’t find or keep a job or, worse, might end up in prison.

Half a century ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary of labor, saw that a lack of work for unskilled men made it hard for black fathers in particular to put bread on the table. So, as he argued in his 1965 report, “The Negro Family,” black families became matriarchies, an unhealthy pattern that he said was left over from slavery. His explanations — though not his factual findings — were denounced as racist and anti-feminist.

Professors Carbone and Cahn applaud the prescience of Moynihan, who later became a United States senator from New York. African-American families, they write, proved to be “the canaries in the mine,” the early victims of a misfortune that has now spread much more widely.

[T]hey turn to family law for solutions, but the law has lagged far behind the diverse shapes that American families now assume. The authors contend that the law of marriage — and divorce — serves only the elite, the only couples with enough property to fight over.

On the lowest rungs of society, family law is punitive, typically a fruitless effort to determine the paternity of hapless men who have no money to pay child support. In the middle brackets, neither parent sees much to gain by going to court. Their savings are scant; women fear being stuck with supporting a former husband who has lost his job. Unmarried parents work things out on the mother’s terms, trading access to children for child support.

More on the family, society, SJWs, and modern feminists:

Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Life Is Unfair! The Militant Red Pill Movement
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
Madmen, Red Pill, and Social Justice Wars
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Ross Douthat on Unstable Families and Culture
Ev Psych: Parental Preferences in Partners
Purge: the Feminist Grievance Bubble
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Modern Feminism: Victim-Based Special Pleading
Stereotype Inaccuracy: False Dichotomies
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Why Did Black Crime Syndicates Fail to Go Legit?
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Culture Wars: Peace Through Limited Government

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)


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