Are Americans rediscovering marriage?

One of the hallmarks of American exceptionalism, sad to say, is the US leads the world for children reared in single-parent households. For that dubious distinction we can in part thank President Lyndon Johnson. He turned loose a pack of “pointy-head college professors who can't even park a bicycle straight” (per Gov. George Wallace) who had a field day experimenting on America’s downtrodden. Seems those ‘best and brightest’ didn’t have a clue about welfare dependency.

However, LBJ’s failed Great Society solidified America’s welfare class into a critical mass of grateful voters (and broken homes). They’ve been a rock-solid part of the Democratic Party’s base ever since.

Also, much of the anti-family consumerism, entertainment, popular culture and wokeism that has flooded the world is of American origin. It makes money, so it must be fine. Everyone on board with that?

But after years of going along to get along, guess what? Pushback. Corporate media called it culture war. Things had been peachy-keen progressive until those 20th century troglodytes turned to community, homeschooling, and alternative media. Globalism demands fealty. Those pesky Christian types and associated malcontents were leaving the plantation. Culture War!

Then the internet opened Pandora’s Box. The powers-that-be responded with name-calling and cancel culture. Too little, too late. Nonetheless, falling fertility, declining living standards, woke culture and wars-without-end have wrought incalculable damage.

But – could a cultural correction be in the cards?

New data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published “Births: Final Data for 2022.” Gloom-and-doomers eagerly awaited the release. Bad news means good clickbait, and reporters know how to spin anything. Do they teach that in journalism school?

The report primarily covers demographic change from 2021 to 2022:

  • The 2022 US total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.66.
  • A whopping 41 percent of births were paid for by Medicaid.
  • From 2021 to 2022 the number of births rose 2 percent for Asian Americans; 6 percent for Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander and non-White Hispanics. Births declined 1 percent for Blacks, 2 percent for Whites.
  • Birth rates declined for unmarried women but increased for married women.
  • Birth rates declined for females ages 15–24, rose for those ages 25–29 and 35–49, and were unchanged for the 30–34 cohort.

Still with us? Did you notice that bit about birthrates increasing for married women?

Silver lining

Along comes the intrepid Institute for Family Studies. Call ‘em culture warriors ‘til the cows come home, but you can’t knock them off-task. Veritable blood hounds, those folks. At the IFS blog, scholar Patrick T. Brown accentuated the positive in “Good News About Married Fertility in the US:”

New 2022 data confirm a trend that has been slowly evolving since 2007; namely, that the great decoupling of marriage and parenthood that exploded in the second half of the 20th century is starting to be rolled back. That’s because while America is having fewer babies, the babies that are being born are more likely to be born to married parents.

That is good news. Always the family-friendly find the silver lining.

The birth rate among married women… has been in the range of 80 to 90 births per 1,000 [since the 1990s]… [I]t hit a new low of 80.8 in 2020. But 2022 shows a continued, if modest, rebound to a birth rate of 84.2 among married women.

So family formation is good for fertility. Who’d a thought? Are families coming back? Will getting hitched once again become the “in” thing for up and comers? Anything is possible:

The shift in fertility patterns post-Great Recession suggest a future in which fertility, like marriage, becomes the cherry on top of a successfully-completed young adulthood. Johns Hopkins’ sociologist Andrew Cherlin dubbed this changing view of marriage the shift from a "cornerstone" to a “capstone” model. Perhaps something similar is happening with parenthood. [Emphasis added]

The CDC report includes a tidbit in accord with the above: The decades-long decline in birthrates for the under 25 cohort is “counterbalanced by a notable increase among women in their 40s.” This is a phenomenon we’ve all seen.

Cornerstone, capstone or whatever, so many women, intelligent as all get out, with successful careers, finally figure out that if they want children, they’d better get busy. This is by no means letting the men off the hook. Family is all about priorities. It is extremely helpful, essential even, for husband and wife to be on the same page. Two compatible gender-affirmed, binary cisgender individuals joined in Holy Matrimony can work wonders.



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Pro-natalist, pro-family distinction

Mr. Brown concludes by raising the distinction between strict pro-natalism advocating for more children (e.g. Elon Musk) and pro-family advocacy, favoring more children within marriage. From his recent piece in the neocon National Review:

If you’re concerned about declining fertility, you must be concerned about declining marriage. Reshaping the cultural narrative about marriage, and making it financially easier and more culturally acceptable to marry earlier, will give the most couples a better chance to have more children. A natalism that underemphasizes marriage will fall short.

Indeed. Family is embedded in Creation (nature). Faith affirms that. Is marriage becoming chic? Are the young’uns once again discovering the obvious? Through the millennia younger generations occasionally stumble upon, through no particular discernment of their own, the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. That enables the rediscovery of old truths, which are rebranded anew. That is, shall we say, “normal,” and could be happening yet again. Truth is stranger than fiction.

And that, my friends, just might be some good news. Meanwhile, don’t let your guard down in the culture war but be patient all the same. Patience imbues optimism. As the old saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.”  

Do you sense a change in the cultural climate? Tell us about it in the comments below.  

Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Image credit: Bigstock 


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  • Jd O'Neil
    commented 2024-04-26 06:50:54 +1000
    @David Page “The Amish exist under the protection of the larger community. They are parasites.”

    Surely, you must be exaggerating. No human being is a parasite. But what are you trying to get at exactly?
  • David Page
    commented 2024-04-23 10:05:30 +1000
    The Amish exist under the protection of the larger community. They are parasites. They are not the wave of the future.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-04-18 10:47:57 +1000
    The intent of ‘the great society’ was good. The problem was that it rewarded broken families. That could be fixed.
  • mrscracker
    The Daily Mail ran an article yesterday about the Amish who are expanding their communities across America and whose population doubles every 20 yrs. According to the DM, the US Amish population will be approaching 1 million in the future if they continue in this way by having earlier marriages & larger families.
    I spoke with one of my children who is a demographer & they said the projection in the DM was off quite a bit. It will be more likely 3 million US Amish by 2100.
  • Jd O'Neil
    commented 2024-04-17 03:58:44 +1000
    Something is happening. Right now.

    I’m a young man in my mid-20s and I’m getting married this summer (July 6th!). But my wedding is only one among MANY here in Alberta, Canada. There is hardly a single Saturday that isn’t booked by someone I personally know, all of us in our 20s. For friends of friends, it’s every Saturday and some Fridays. And what’s more, all of us want traditional marriages and single-income homes.

    There’s a massive shift in the young people right now. We want to step up. We’re ready.
  • mrscracker
    “However, LBJ’s failed Great Society solidified America’s welfare class into a critical mass of grateful voters (and broken homes). They’ve been a rock-solid part of the Democratic Party’s base ever since.”
    I think even good intentions can have unintended consequences.
    I used to work with Section 8 rental properties & because of the way housing vouchers are set up, the system by default excludes fathers from the home.
    A single mother is not incentivized to marry the father of her children because his income could make the difference between Section 8 eligibility or not. If an unauthorized adult male is found in her home during a Section 8 inspection the tenant receives a warning. If it happens again, they lose their housing voucher.
    It makes sense to taxpayers to base assisted housing eligibility on income & the boyfriend should man up & marry the mother of his children, but that ends up punishing the family financially. So, children become deprived of the presence of their fathers.
    I know older couples who have shacked up so they don’t lose Social Security benefits.
    We need more incentives for folks to get married. And to marry earlier if possible.
  • Louis T. March
    published this page in The Latest 2024-04-15 15:33:09 +1000