Go to College, Get Married

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Apparently the more education you have, the more “faith” you have in the institution of marriage. According to a CNN piece:

The 2010 edition of “The State of Our Unions” — a report on attitudes toward marriage — indicates highly educated Americans are “embracing a pro-marriage mindset” even as middle Americans lose faith in the institution. That shift resembles trends normally seen in the poor, where marriage is “fragile and weak,” according to the report, issued Monday.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the report says, divorce or separation within the first 10 years of marriage decreased for the highly educated from 15 percent to 11 percent and fell from 46 percent to 36 percent for the least educated, but was nearly steady for the moderately educated [people who have high school diplomas, but not bachelor’s degrees], moving from 36 percent up to 37 percent.

Why is this? While the report, melodramatically titled When Marriage Disappears, suggests that “shifts in marriage mores, increases in unemployment, and declines in religious attendance are among the trends driving the retreat from marriage in Middle America,” the true reason for the slight decline in marriage among those without a college degree may be much more structural.

Does higher education foster an attitude of respect toward marriage? Does it make people more likely to have healthy relationships? Maybe, but probably not.

It’s more likely that the reason is just that people who went to college simply earn more money. People get married when they think they can afford to do so. This trend seems especially likely given the increasing cost of the wedding ceremony itself.

The average American wedding now costs $27,800. No kidding it’s only college graduates willing to shell out that kind of cash. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer