I admire Isabel Sawhill deeply, but I respectfully disagree with this recommendation.
First, American marriage isn’t disappearing, it’s fracturing along class lines. In upscale America ”” about one-third of the society ”” marriage is thriving. Most people marry, few children (fewer than 10 percent) are born to unmarried mothers, and most children grow up through age 18 living with their two married parents. Among the more privileged, then, marriage clearly functions as a wealth-producing arrangement, a source of happiness over time, and a benefit to children.
Indeed, scholars today increasingly identify America’s marriage gap ”” in which the affluent reap the benefits of marriage while the non-affluent increasingly do not ”” as an important driver of rising American inequality. Wouldn’t it be odd, and sad, if American elites, at the very moment in which the role of marriage as both an indicator and producer of high status in their own lives is crystal clear, decided to throw up their hands in resignation when it comes to marriage in the rest of the society?
Second, changing what we support from “marriage” (a social institution) to “responsible parenthood” (a piece of advice) means downplaying the role of society and putting all responsibility on the individual.