The Growing Racial and Ethnic Divide in U.S. Marriage Patterns

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The authors argue that the racial gap in marriage that emerged in the 1960s, and has grown since, is due partly to broad changes in ideas about family arrangements that have made marriage optional. As the imperative to marry has fallen, alongside other changes in the economy that have increased women’s economic contributions to the household, socioeconomic standing has become increasingly important for marriage. Race continues to be associated with economic disadvantage, and thus as economic factors have become more relevant to marriage and marital stability, the racial gap in marriage has grown.