The Great Crossover

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Megan McArdle, who married in her late 30s, presents the many cases for getting married young — and discusses the Great Crossover:

“In some ways the middle class has really cashed in on a form of marriage that we didn’t see much of historically,” says Kathryn Edin of Harvard’s Kennedy School. She calls theirs “superrelationships,” with high levels of rapport and satisfaction—not to mention income. The divorce rate for these relationships has plunged to levels not seen since the 1960s, and it may decline further. But there’s a big potential fly in the ointment: not all of these people are getting established quickly enough to have all of the children they want. A 2011 survey showed that almost half of female scientists—and a quarter of the men—reported that their career had kept them from having as many children as they wished.

Knot Yet Report

Meanwhile, less educated women who will never have the money for five rounds of IVF aren’t running that risk; instead, they’re choosing an even bigger risk: having a child before they’re in a stable relationship. Fifty-eight percent of first births to those women now take place outside of marriage. And while the father is usually around at the birth, within five years, a substantial fraction of those relationships will have broken up. Since 1990, the age at first marriage has soared well above the age at first childbirth: the median age at which a woman has her first child is now a full year earlier than the median age at which she first marries, a phenomenon that a recent report from the National Marriage Project dubbed “The Great Crossover.”


  1. Candide III says:

    Very funny reading for a reactionary. Mrs. McArdle clearly has a good idea of the score, but has to bow and scrape to the priests every few paragraphs to keep a slot even on the Daily Beast. In exactly the same way, Soviet writers had to insert obligatory references to Lenin or Leninism or something similar, especially if what they really wanted to say strayed from the party line. This phenomenon was so frequent in good Soviet books, such as there were, that the readers acquired the knack of walking past these ideological cow flops without really noticing them.

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