May 1st 2007,
Sixteen of the top scholars on family life have re-issued a joint report on the importance of marriage. First released in 2002, the newly revised edition highlights five new themes in marriage-related research.
Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences was produced by a politically diverse and interdisciplinary group of leading family scholars, chaired by W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia and includes psychologist John Gottman, best selling author of books about marriage and relationships, Linda Waite, coauthor of The Case for Marriage, Norval Glenn and Steven Nock, two of the top family social scientists in the country, William Galston, a Clinton Administration domestic policy advisor, and Judith Wallerstein, author of the national bestseller The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.
Since 1960, the proportion of children who do not live with their own two parents has risen sharply—from 19.4% to 42.3% in the Nineties. This change has been caused, first, by large increases in divorce, and more recently, by a big jump in single mothers and cohabiting couples who have children but don’t marry. For several decades the impact of this dramatic change in family structure has been the subject of vigorous debate among scholars. No longer. These 26 findings are now widely agreed upon.
Five New Themes
* In addition to reviewing research on family topics covered in the first edition of the report, Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition highlights five new themes in marriage-related research.
* Even though marriage has lost ground in the minority communities in recent years, marriage has not lost its value in these communities.
* An emerging line of research indicates that marriage benefits poor Americans, and Americans from disadvantaged backgrounds, even though these Americans are now less likely to get and stay married.
* Marriage seems to be particularly important in civilizing men, turning their attention away from dangerous, antisocial, or self-centered activities and towards the needs of a family.
* Beyond its well-known contributions to adult health, marriage influences the biological functioning of adults and children in ways that can have important social consequences.
* The relationship quality of intimate partners is related to both their marital status and, for married adults, to the degree to which these partners are committed to marriage.