The New York Times

How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?

Marriage, which used to be the default way to form a family in the United States, regardless of income or education, has become yet another part of American life reserved for those who are most privileged.

Fewer Americans are marrying overall, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.

Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class

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