It’s sad news, but according to recent reports, only 4 out of 10 Americans believe in marriage. In fact, a study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 1 in 3 children lives with a divorced, separated, or never-married parent. The Center’s findings highlight the changing family structure in the U.S. and the U.S. Census Bureau has even discussed changing how it measures poverty to better reflect the changing definition of family.
About 29 percent of children live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, which is a fivefold increase from 1960. Furthermore, about 15 percent of children have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent have parents who never got married. But it isn’t just a changing attitude about marriage that is keeping some Americans from tying the knot. Instead, many couples are opting to live together without getting married in the face of persistent unemployment.
Nevertheless, the broadening definition of family is also being driven by young adults ages 18-29 who are more likely to have unmarried or divorced parents or friends that do. In addition, young adults tend to have more liberal views of spousal roles and living together before marriage. While attitudes are shifting, Americans are also still optimistic about the future of marriage: 67 percent of Americans are still more upbeat about the future of marriage and the family than they are about the education system (50 percent), the economy (46 percent), or its morals and ethics (41 percent).