American matrimony has experienced radical shifts within the last decade due to social and economic transformations. Rather than argue that marriage is dying, this study addresses marriage as a metamorphic dynamic promoted by various factors unique to this modern age. These shifts affecting marriage dynamics end up affecting the children as well, thus altering the family dynamic. The notion of marriage is a cultural ideal that is promoted here in the United States, but this notion has become a political and social battlefield. In this study, I argue that different patterns of childrearing are the key to understanding class differences in marriage and parenthood, not an unintended by-product of it. Marriage is the commitment mechanism that supports high levels of investment in children and is hence more valuable for parents adopting a high-investment strategy for their children.
Since the 1950s, the sources of the gains from marriage have changed radically. As the educational attainment of women overtook and surpassed that of men and the ratio of men's to women's wage rates fell, traditional patterns of gender specialization and division in work weakened. The primary source of the gains to marriage shifted from the production of household services and commodities to investment in children. For some, these changes meant that marriage was no longer worth the costs of limited independence and potential mismatch. In 1960, more than 70 percent of all adults were married; half a century later, just 20 percent of 18-29-year olds were married in 2010 (Amato, Passel, Wang & Livingston, 2011). Marriage was the norm for young America – now it's the exception. Marriage is undergoing a metamorphosis, prompted by a transformation in the economic and social status of women and the virtual disappearance of low-skilled male jobs. The old form of marriage, based on antiquated social codes and gender roles, is disappearing. A new version is...