John Hayward Posted: 5 October 2009
Keywords: Sex & Families,
Less than three weeks since a nobel Prize-winning economist urged world leaders to 'avoid GDP fetishism', the international community now has another crucial new indicator in its social toolkit: The Marriage Index.
As its authors suggest, this is an important development because 'no social progress is possible without widely shared, trackable goals', and, 'for any society that cares about its future, leading marriage indicators are as important as leading economic indicators'.
Launched by the Institute for American Values and the National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting, it combines five key indicators: the percentage of adults married; happiness in marriage; the percentage of first marriages intact; the percentage of births to married parents; and the percentage of children living with their own married parents.
Overall their figures show that the health of marriage in the US sits at 60.3 per cent - significantly worse than four decades ago. However, an analysis by the Jubilee Centre suggests comparable figures† in the UK are not much better - just 61.3 per cent:
|Percentage of First Marriages Intact (ages 24-54)||68.0%|
|Percentage of Children Living with Own Married Parents||65.0%|
|Percentage of Married Persons Satisfied with Their Marriage||61.5%|
|Percentage of Births to Married Parents||57.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Married (ages 24-54)||54.2%|
|Combined UK score||61.3%|
Crucially, the researchers also suggest 101 ways to improve this score. These include a broad range from the aspirational 'Make raising children who succeed in marriage at least as important a goal as raising children who succeed in careers' to the very practical 'If your marriage has recovered from serious trouble, consider volunteering in (or starting!) a marriage mentoring program in your community.' Parents might want to take particular note of advice such as 'Be intentional about talking to your teenagers about marriage' and 'Encourage young people to see dating within the context of courtship, where courtship is defined as "finding and winning the right person for marriage."'
We have built on these suggestions with a range of specific recommendations on monitoring and reporting, for national government, and for local communities in our own report.
† Exact comparisons are not possible owing to the different ways and kinds of data collected nationally. For full information, read the report, The UK Marriage Index 2009.