Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage - But Who Rides a Carriage Anymore?

In order to combat declining rates the American government is funding an advertising campaign to encourage young people to get married. This US Today article has quite a bit of interesting tidbits in it (including a funny little chart at the bottom of different young adult attitudes towards marriage. The general gist ought to be familiar if you’ve read this blog for a while - most young Americans want to get married, have pretty high expectations for the success of their future marriage, but feel frustrated about how to go about finding a partner. Major shifts in life-course trajectories, changing gender norms, and the emergence of ‘young adulthood’ as a viable developmental period are all culprits. The argument for doing this is pretty standard.

Research suggests a bevy of benefits for those who marry, including better health, greater wealth and more happiness for the couple, and improved well-being for children.

{josquote}...if you only live with one person and then eventually marry that person, you are significantly less likely to get a divorce than if you had never lived with them.{/josquote}

There is something else going on, though, and this article made me think of two papers I’ve seen recently, both of which add growing evidence to an argument that the link between marriage and happiness/health isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be. First, here is the abstract from the paper “The Times They Are a Changin': Marital Status and Health Differentials from 1972 to 2003” by Hui Liu and Debra Umberson which appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior:

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