Marriage has become a source of conflict for both male and females in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of newly-wed adults has steadily declined from 2008 to 2011. Fox News has interpreted this data as a result of women’s changing role in society in a piece titled “The War on Men”. However, the reality is much more complicated thanks to a significant shift in societal norms. Priorities have changed for both the American male and female. The changing environment has thus resulted in the failure of both sexes to meet on common ground regarding marriage.
According to other Pew Research data, 72% of American adults ages 18 and over were married in 1960. Today, only 51% of American adults are married. What has contributed to this trend? American society has certainly evolved over the past 40 years, changing the way in which men and women relate to one another.
An indicator in the decline of marriages in the U.S. may be that people want to get married out of economic necessity rather than for true love. The current economic crisis has led to a change in male unemployment. According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Labor report, women comprised 46.7% of the national workforce, an increase from the beginning of the recession in 2007. The report also indicated that 37.1% of employed women have bachelor’s degrees compared to men’s 34.9%. From this data, it is entirely plausible that the average American male may be intimidated by the fact that their female counterpart is more likely to be the breadwinner. The topic of jobs has become such an important priority among Americans, that many may be seeking a spouse solely for financial security.
However, other research suggests that employment for American men is looking up. Men saw a 2011 spike in manufacturing jobs, a sector that typically attracts male workers. Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, explains that both sexes are suffering regardless:
"People want to make this into a battle of the sexes in the labor market, but the situation is sad for everybody… it's great that we're seeing manufacturing coming back, but we're not creating jobs fast enough, and unless manufacturing picks up, and the recovery takes hold, we're not going to get families back to where they need to be.”
No matter which perspective you may identify with, it is clear that both males and females are being greatly affected by the economic crisis. As national happiness is at historic lows, marriage rates have consequently suffered.