byThaddeus M. Baklinski
WASHINGTON, DC, November 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Despite the rising figures for cohabitation, divorce, and single parent child rearing, a new study by the Pew Research Center on how Americans view marriage and family shows only five percent of those under 30 don't plan on getting married.
With the marginally misleading title of "The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families" the study, based on census data and a new telephone poll of 2,691 adults conducted between October 1 and 21, found that traditional marriage as the most viable basis of society is in no danger of disappearing.
"Marriage, while declining among all groups, remains the norm for adults with a college education and good income but is now markedly less prevalent among those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder," the Pew report states.
The survey found that those in this less-advantaged group are as likely as others to want to marry, but they place a higher premium on economic security as a condition for marriage.
However, the survey also found striking differences by generation. "In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% were," the report revealed.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, charged that mainstream media interpretations of these statistics have been bent on distorting of the value of true marriage and natural family.
“The media is putting an anti-marriage, anti-traditional family spin on a new study from the Pew Research Center,” he said. “A decline in the percentage of adults (twenty-somethings) who are married is largely because people delay marriage, not because they forego it altogether . . . Only 5% of Americans under 30 don’t plan on tying the knot. This doesn't sound like 'the end of marriage,' as some are claiming the survey indicates."
A strong majority (58%) of those polled disagreed with the question "Is marriage becoming obsolete?" although a growing number (39 percent, up from 28% in 1978) agreed.
Furthermore, over two-thirds (67%) of Americans said they were "optimistic" about the future of marriage and family.
More that three-quarters of those polled (76%) said their family is the most important element of their life, 75% said they are "very satisfied" with their family life, and more than eight-in-ten said the family they live in now is as close as (45%) or closer than (40%) the family in which they grew up.
The report notes that the public's response to changing marital norms and family forms reflects a mix of acceptance and unease.
"On the troubled side of the ledger: Seven-in-ten (69%) say the trend toward more single women having children is bad for society, and 61% say that a child needs both a mother and father to grow up happily."
Forty-three percent of those polled said that increases in cohabitation without marriage, unmarried couples raising children, and homosexuals raising children, were bad for society.
"Relatively few say any of these trends are good for society, but many say they make little difference," the report stated.
The changing definition of "family" is notable.
Although 99% said that a married couple with children constitutes a family, and 86% say a single parent and child is a family, nearly as many (80%) say an unmarried couple living together with a child is a family, and 63% say a homosexual couple raising a child is a family.
"The presence of children clearly matters in these definitions," the report says. "If a cohabiting couple has no children, a majority of the public says they are not a family. Marriage matters, too. If a childless couple is married, 88% consider them to be a family."
"Even as marriage shrinks, family - in all its emerging varieties - remains resilient. The survey finds that Americans have an expansive definition of what constitutes a family. And the vast majority of adults consider their own family to be the most important, most satisfying element of their lives," the Pew report concludes.
Tony Perkins remarked that, "The research is still clear: married husbands and wives, and their children, are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than people in any other household setting."