Marriage – Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray
Premessa: studiamo il matrimonio immaginando l’ America bianca come una città divisa in due quartieri: Belmont, dove abitano i ricchi e Fishtown, dove abitano i poveri.
Tesi: la crisi dei valori tradizionali colpisce soprattutto Fishtown e contribuisce a scavare un fossato tra i due quartieri.
… here I describe a decline of marriaga in white America that took different courses for Belmont and Fishtown during the 1980s, and an unprecedented increase in white nonmarital births that has been concentrated in Fishtown and scarcely touched Belmont.
Over the last half century, marriage has become the fault line dividing American classes.
Note:MATRIMONIO E CLASSI
What Whites Said About Marriage
“In general, who do you think is happier,” the Gallup interviewer asked, “the girl who is married and has a family to raise, or the unmarried career girl?” Ninety-six percent of the wives said the married girl with a family was happier. Ninety-three percent said that they did not, in retrospect, wish they had pursued a career instead of getting married. More than half the ever-married women thought that the ideal age for a woman to be married was 20 through 23, with 21 being the most commonly named year. Only 18 percent thought a woman should wait until age 25 or older… In 1960, no-fault divorce did not exist and a speedy divorce was possible only in Nevada. In many states, the only legal grounds for divorce were adultery or cruelty. Even so, 56 percent of the respondents said that divorce should be made more difficult, compared to only 9 percent who thought it should be made easier….
Note:SENTIMENT NEL 1962
The traditional conception of marital roles took a big hit from the 1960s through the 1980s. A substantial class difference remained, however. As of the 2000s, almost 40 percent of Fishtown still took a traditional view of the woman’s role, compared to less than 20 percent of Belmont.
Note:1960-1980: ANCORA UNA FORTE DIFFERENZA DI CLASSE
In the 1970s, large majorities in Fishtown thought that premarital sex was wrong, that the wife should help her husband’s career first, and that young children suffer if the mother works. Among the college-educated people of Belmont, support for all these propositions was much lower.
Note:1970: CLASSI BEN DIFFERENZIATE SUI TEMI DEL MATRIMONIO
By the 2000s, support had dropped everywhere, but most of all in Fishtown, so that there was little remaining difference between Belmont and Fishtown on most of them.
Note:GRANDE CONVERGENZA SU DOPO IL 2000. PESA LA STAGNAZIONE DI BELMONT
growing numbers of people in Belmont agreed that divorce law should make divorce more difficult, almost erasing the gap with Fishtown that had existed in the 1970s.
Note:BELMONT CONTRO I DIVORZI
Belmont became more traditional in its attitude toward married people having sex with someone other than their spouses, as shown in Figure 8.2. I put the estimate for the first half of the 1960s at 80 percent overall, for reasons explained in appendix D.
Note:BELMONT SUL TRADIMENTO
Based on collateral evidence such as the Gallup survey of American women, we have to assume that in the early 1960s Belmont was about as strict in its attitudes as Fishtown. Within just a few years, white college-educated men and women became enthusiastic recruits to the sexual revolution. It is one of the most dramatic and rapid examples of divergence of elite norm and mainstream norms.
Note:RIVOLUZIONE SESSUALE RIVOLUZIONE D’ELITE
By the 2000s, Belmont still was not quite as strict on this point as Fishtown, but college-educated professionals had clearly returned to a more traditional attitude than they had held in the 1970s. While class differences remained in attitudes toward marriage, many of these differences were smaller in 2010 than they had been in the 1970s.
Note:RIFLUSSO SOLO PER LE ÉLITES
What Whites Did About Marriage
The Decline of Marriage
Starting around 1970, marriage took a nosedive that lasted for nearly twenty years. Among all whites ages 30–49, only 13 percent were not living with spouses as of 1970. Twenty years later, that proportion had more than doubled, to 27 percent—a change in a core social institution that has few precedents for magnitude and speed.
Note:LA PICCHIATA DEI MATRIMONI 70-90
By the mid-1980s, the decline had stopped in Belmont, and the trendline remained flat thereafter. Marriage in Fishtown kept falling. The net result: The two neighborhoods, which had been only 11 percentage points apart as late as 1978, were separated by 35 percentage points as of 2010, when only 48 percent of prime-age whites in Fishtown were married, compared to 84 percent in 1960. Furthermore, the slope of the decline in Fishtown after the early 1990s had yet to flatten.
Note:GLI SPOSATI (NO SINGLE, NO DIVORZIATI): DAGLI ANNI 80 DIVERGENZA TREND PRO BELMONT
The Rise of the Never-Marrieds
The stereotypes of the 1970s and 1980s, of yuppies and feminists remaining single into their thirties or forties, had some basis in fact—the percentage of never-married whites in Belmont doubled from 1970 to 1984. But after 1984, that percentage barely rose at all, from 9 percent to 11 percent. The big news is the relentless increase in Fishtown of people who had never married. It showed no signs of decreasing through 2010, when more than one out of four Fishtown whites ages 30–49 had not yet married.
Note:SINGLE: ESPLOSI A FISHTOWN
The Rise of Divorce
In the case of divorce, the trends were similar into the early 1980s. The trendline in Belmont flattened in the early 1980s. In Fishtown, the trendline continued steeply upward, with the slope shallowing only a little in the 2000s. As of 2010, one-third of Fishtown whites ages 30–49 had been divorced.
Note:DIVORZI: ESPLOSI A FISHTOWN
Happy and Not So Happy Marriages
Not only did marriage become much rarer in Fishtown over the half century ending in 2010, the quality of marriages that did exist apparently deteriorated.
Note:QUALITÀ MATRIMONIO DETERIORATA A FISHTOWN
Children and Marriage
the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married. Divorced parents produce the next-best outcomes. Whether the parents remarry or remain single while the children are growing up makes little difference. Never-married women produce the worst outcomes. All of these statements apply after controlling for the family’s socioeconomic status.
Note:LA FAMIGLIA MODELLO
Children Living with a Single Divorced or Separated Parent
The trends roughly correspond to the trends in divorce shown earlier. The divergence between Belmont and Fishtown is substantial, with 22 percent of Fishtown children living with a lone divorced or separated parent as of 2010, compared to just 3 percent of Belmont children.
Note:FIGLI CHE VIVONO CON UN GENITORE DIVORZIATO. TREND
From the founding until well into the twentieth century, it was unquestioned that children should be born only within marriage and that failure to maintain that state of affairs would produce catastrophic consequences for society.
Note:IL VERO PROBLEMA: NASCERE FUORI DA UN MATRIMONIO
In the twentieth century, illegitimate supplanted bastard as the favored label for children born out of wedlock, helped along by the imprimatur of one of the first great anthropologists, Bronisław Malinowski. In his 1930 book, Sex, Culture, and Myth, Malinowski concluded that the “principle of legitimacy” amounted to a “universal sociological law.” Every culture, he concluded, had a norm that “no child should be brought into the world without a man—and one man at that—assuming the role of sociological father,
Note:DA BASTARDI A ILLEGITTIMI
In America, white nonmarital births have grown phenomenally over the period 1960–2010.
FENOMENO CHE CRESCE
That information reveals an extraordinarily strong relationship between the mother’s education and the likelihood that she gives birth as an unmarried woman. If she has a college education, she almost never does.
Note:ISTRUZIONE E ILLEGITTIMI
Women with high school educations can be assigned to Belmont because they are married to men with college educations and a Belmont occupation. It seems highly unlikely that this population of women has the same probability of having experienced a nonmarital birth as women with high school educations who remain unmarried or who marry a man with a high school education and a Fishtown occupation.
Note:FISHTOWN FA IL PIENO DI ILLEGITTIMI
Maybe It Isn’t as Bad as It Looks
People with lower levels of education marry at younger ages and have babies at younger ages than people who are busy with school through most of their twenties. If we control for these differences, how different would the results in this chapter look?
Note:FORSE NON È UNA ROTTURA DI VALORI MA UN EFFETTO STATISTICO
The old-fashioned dichotomy between married and unmarried is unrealistic in today’s world, the argument goes. People may cohabit rather than formally marry, but the children are still being raised in a two-parent family, with the advantages of a two-parent family.
Note:LA CONVIVENZA RENDE INUTILE IL DISCRIMINE SPOSATI/NON SPOSATI?
The question then becomes: How do the children of cohabiting parents fare? The answer: About the same as the children of the old-fashioned form of single parenthood, women who are unmarried and not cohabiting.
Note:I BIMBI DEI CONVIVENTI
The mothers in cohabiting couples tended to have lower education, to be younger, to have poorer psychological adjustment, less social support, and less money than the married mothers.
Note:LA MAMMA CONVIVENTE
Having two unmarried biological parents was associated with worse outcomes than having two married biological parents, and the outcomes were rarely better than those for children living with a single parent or in a “cohabiting stepparent” family.
Cohabitation with children occurs overwhelmingly in Fishtown.
Note:FISHTOWN FA IL PIENO DI CONVIVENZE
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks
belief that families with children are the core around which American communities must be organized—must, because families with children have always been, and still are, the engine that makes American communities work—and from my conclusion that the family in Fishtown is approaching a point of no return.
Fishtown’s higher divorce rate and much higher nonmarital-birth ratio combined to produce wide divergence from Belmont; this divergence continued to widen at the end of these observations.
Note:CIAO CIAO FISHTOWN
The divergence is so large that it puts the women of Belmont and Fishtown into different family cultures. The absolute level in Fishtown is so low that it calls into question the viability of white working-class communities as a place for socializing the next generation.