Why is the US marriage rate falling sharply?

Happy couple emerge from chapel

For the first time in memory, unmarried Americans will soon outnumber those who are married, according to the latest research. So is this a watershed moment?

At first glance it would appear that, in common with many Western countries, marriage is in terminal decline in the United States.

In 1960, 72% of all American adults were married; in 2010 just 51% were, according to the Pew Centre. The number dropped sharply by 5% in the most recent year, 2009-10.

“I think we are on the cusp of seeing marriage becoming less central to our life course and in framing the lives of our nation’s children. So I think it is a major moment in that regard,” says Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a sociology professor at the University of Virginia.

By Brian Wheeler BBC News, Washington

In today’s Magazine

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