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New book examines how and why marriage is changing in the U.S.

In past decades, little girls often grew up dreaming about and planning their wedding day. Today, these idyllic images of a beautiful white dress, bright bouquet of flowers and handsome groom have all but faded for a select segment of the population. While much of the de-emphasis on marriage relates to the fact that women have more opportunities to pursue higher educational degrees and earn decent salaries, a new book provides additional insight into why fewer Americans are choosing to get married.

Written by two female family law professors the book, Marriage Markets, discusses how socioeconomic changes within American culture have influenced people's perceptions of marriage and ability to marry. The authors contend that dwindling marriage rates are largely attributable to the widening gap between the haves and have nots, with only the wealthy being able to afford to marry.

Most Fort Worth residents have likely heard the statistics that roughly one out of every two U.S. marriages ends in divorce. Additionally, today four out of every 10 babies born in the U.S. are born to single mothers. In some cases, it's not because these women don’t' want to marry, but many simply lack the economic means to do so.

The authors point to changes within the business world and the "drying up of good blue-collar jobs" and "middle management" positions as being the source of many Americans' economic problems. How these problems in turn affect an individual's view of and ability to marry has and will likely continue to bring about great changes within both American society and the American family structure.

Along with the large percentage of U.S. children who are born to unwed mothers and a decrease in marriage rates among less well-off populations, the growing number of same-sex marriages will also have a profound impact. As the familial structure within the U.S. continues to change and evolve, legal views related to parentage rights and child custody must continue to keep pace.

Source: The New York Times, "If Marriage Moves Beyond Our Means: ‘Marriage Markets’ Looks at Pressures on Families," Fred Andrews, July 26, 2014

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