Remember when the Obama Administration rolled out that ad in 2008 featuring "Julia", the fictional woman who never needed parents or a husband because "The Government" was there at every stage of her life to provide her with her every need? Apparently, a growing number of women (and men) are saying "Hey, that sounds pretty good to me! I want to be like Julia too!" That's because getting married is going the way of removing your hat when you are indoors and eating dinner at a table with the rest of your family as traditions fewer people are following nowadays. A report over the weekend in the Washington Post cites census data showing the number of people over the age of 25 who have never married has grown from just 10% in 1960 to more than 20% last year. And that is expected to grow to 25% over the next two decades.
The article quotes several people who have absolutely no interest in marrying. Among them are a couple who have kids together, have lived together for years but just don't want to make the "official" commitment to each other. That lack of commitment really shouldn't come as a surprise in a culture where the main selling point of new cellphones is that the carrier will pay off the penalty for early termination of your previous wireless contract that you signed less than two years ago. Marriage is not easy. It takes hard work sometimes to get through some situations as a couple. And breaking up that union is costly and complicated--so you tend to make a better effort to fix what is wrong. But if there are no "legal" ties binding you--quitting when the going gets tough is a whole lot easier. The only complicating factor might be who needs to move out of the apartment and who gets to keep the dog and the cat.
One thing that the report misses out on, however, is the role that the growth of Big Government and the increasing dependency on its programs have had in reducing the "need" to get married. No longer are two low-income people better off marrying and combining their assets when all that does is put your eligibility for food stamps, WIC, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and housing subsidies in jeopardy. The only welfare fraud cases that I can remember reporting on in my 16-years in the business are single mothers who failed to report that they were living with guys who were bringing in income above the eligibility limits.
Having a mother and a dad in the home used to be the only way to raise a child. But with government subsidized day care, Early Childhood, 4-year old kindergarten, all-day kindergarten, before school programs and after school programs, who needs to have parents around to watch their kids? And the financial security later in age created by having two long-term, shared incomes is replaced by Social Security, subsidized senior living and Medicare.
If this keeps up--and Big Government grows from the "Nanny State" to the "Spousal State"--same sex couples might be the only Americans getting married in the future.