Fewer ‘Middle Americans’ marry or attend worship

December 8, 2010

Marriage among Americans who have graduated from high school but not
college is on the decline, and their religious attendance has dropped at
the same time, a new report shows.

"Middle Americans" ages 25 to
60 who were in their first marriages dropped from 73 percent in the
1970s to 45 percent in the 2000s, according to "The State of Our
Unions," an annual report from the National Marriage Project at the
University of Virginia.

The group described as "Middle Americans"
constitute 58 percent of the U.S. adult population. Its members have a
high school diploma and may have some postsecondary education buthave
not obtained a four-year college degree.

Members of this group
have seen a similar drop in religious attendance, from 40 percent
attending nearly every week or more in the 1970s to 28 percent in the
2000s.

"In a striking turn of events, highly educated America is
now both more marriage-minded and religious than are moderately educated
Americans," the report states. "Accordingly, Middle Americans are now
markedly less likely than they used to be to benefit from the social
solidarity, the religious and normative messages about marriage and
family life, and the social control associated with regular
churchgoing."

The report is also the result of the work of the
Center for Marriage and Families at the New York-based Institute for
American Values.  -RNS