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For first time, unmarried households reign in US


AFP reported on October 15, 2006 that traditional marriage is no longer the preferred living arrangements of the majority of Americans.

It is by no means dead, but for the first time, a new survey has shown that traditional marriage has ceased to be the preferred living arrangement in the majority of US households.

The shift, reported by the US Census Bureau in its 2005 American Community Survey, could herald a sea change in every facet of American life -- from family law to national politics and its current emphasis on family values.

The findings, which were released in August but largely escaped public attention until now because of the large volume of data, indicated that marriage did not figure in nearly 55.8 million American family households, or 50.2 percent.

More than 14 million of them were headed by single women, another five million by single men, while 36.7 million belonged to a category described as "nonfamily households," a term that experts said referred primarily to gay or heterosexual couples cohabiting out of formal wedlock.

In addition, there were more than 30 million unmarried men and women living alone, who are not categorized as families, the Census Bureau reported.

The marriage initiative promulgated by President Bush and the current Republican administration doesn't seem to have gained much traction.

The trend represented a dramatic change from just six years ago, when married couples made up 52 percent of 105.5 million American households.

It indicated that efforts by President George W. Bush and his allies, who over the past five years have made a concerted effort to shore up traditional marriage and families through tax breaks, special legislation and church-sponsored campaigns is bearing little fruit.

The shift, experts said, also raises the question about the future effectiveness of so-called "family value" politics currently played by both Republicans and Democrats.

Douglas Besharov, a sociologist with the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said it is difficult for the traditional family to emerge unscathed after three and a half decades of divorce rates reaching 50 percent and five decades out-of-wedlock births.

Link: For first time, unmarried households reign in US - Yahoo! News.


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