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Is Marriage Dead? Kate Bolick Doesn't Think So
Authors | March 08, 2013

Is Marriage Dead? Kate Bolick Doesn't Think So

Even though Kate Bolick's highly acclaimed Atlantic cover story "All The Single Ladies" explores the trend of women remaining single, she doesn't believe that means people are all of a sudden going to stop getting married. In a 'Group Think' article organized by Bill Moyers, Bolick opens by saying: "Marriage is going the way of books. Which aren’t going anywhere." She compares the rise of singles to the rising popularity of e-books—while they both change notions of what marriage and traditional books are, that doesn't mean the original institutions are becoming extinct. Instead, they are shifting.

People have been getting married for thousands of years, she explains. While marriage was once an economic necessity, things have changed to allow women (and men) to delay getting married and having children until they are more established. They can forge an identity outside of traditional family life and then eventually enter into that union when they feel the time is right. "In the 1960s, 80 percent of U.S. households were married couples; 70 percent of women were married by age 24, and only 33 percent of the population was single," she cites. Compare those stats to what's happening today where only "48 percent of U.S. households are married couples; 22 percent of Millennials are married, and more than 50 percent of the population is single."

Some people worry that these massive shifts are slowly decaying the institution of marriage. Bolick, on the other hand, feels like they are actually strengthening it. This brings her back to the e-book example: "When we truly love a book, we aren’t content to have it only as an e-book; we are likely to seek out a physical copy. In this way e-books make 'traditional' books (which of course have only existed for 550 years) more valuable." Contemporary marriage operates on a similar principle. Because we don't have to get married, and we don't have to get married until later in life, those of us choose marriage often enjoy it more. And, as Bolick argues, that doesn't seem like a threat to marriage at all.
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