Middle class marriage is declining, and likely deepening inequality
Over the last few decades, family formation patterns have altered significantly in the U.S., with long-run rises in non-marital births, cohabitation, and single parenthood – although in recent years many of these trends have leveled out.
Importantly, there are increasing class gaps here. Marriage rates have diverged by education level (a good proxy for both social class and permanent income). People with at least a BA are now more likely to get married and stay married compared to those with lower educational attainment. Back in the 1960s, marriage and divorce rates among these groups were nearly identical. As our colleague Isabel Sawhill has written, “family formation is a new fault line in the American class structure.”