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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Malthusian Response to Bad Times--Postpone Marriage

The US Census Bureau has just posted the 2009 American Community Survey results to its website, and many journalists have focused directly on measures of employment, income, and poverty. The New York Times, however, picked up on a different thread in the social fabric--the delay in marriage that has accompanied the deep recession.

A long-term decline in marriage accelerated during the severe recession, according to new data from the Census Bureau, with more couples postponing marriage and often choosing to cohabit without tying the knot.
“People are unsure about their job security, and a lot of people lost their jobs,” said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, a private research group that analyzed census figures. “Getting married is obviously a big step and if you’re not comfortable about your future, it makes sense that you’d postpone a big decision like this.”
Two factors contribute to the decline in marriage among adults ages 25 to 34, said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University: less marriage and more cohabitation, which has become far more socially acceptable, even with children.
Malthus would have approved of people postponing marriage, and thus presumably childbearing, in bad times. He would have strongly disapproved of cohabitation, but on the other hand it still contributes to lower fertility in bad times because cohabiting couples have lower fertility than married couples.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a very interesting article. I would think that people would want to marry in hard times so they could combine their incomes. I got married 5 years ago, before the recession but I think married life is much easier through the ression because we both work hard and we are both determined to get through tough times like this. The author's claim makes alot of sense tho, and it is very insightful. I could definitely understand why young people my age could feel insecure about the economy and marriage when they are first starting out.