Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Marriage Gap

The great Walter Bagehot (the author in the 1860s of The British Constitution) famously described a royal wedding as "the brilliant edition of a universal fact." Hence, for example, the world-wide interest in the latest British royal engagement! Yet marriage, as all sorts of authors and commentators have been warning us in recent years, has increasingly become less universal and more class-based. It is an evident social fact that in today's society marriage - and its manifold benefits - is much more likely to be an upper-class experience, almost a luxury item. This trend is both the result of growing inequality and a further contributor to it. It is also in part a result of the value of marriage no longer being upheld and propagated precisely by those who benefit from it the most. Sociologist Charles Murray famously challenged our upper classes to "preach what they practice."  Certainly their failure to do so has been catastrophic for those at the other end of the socio-economic hierarchy, who would benefit enormously from living in a society whose leaders articulated the values and promoted policies which would further the social stability, which previous generations benefited from and which the better off are still largely able to benefit from.

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