With marriage rates on the decline, especially among younger Americans, one editor asks if marriage is the new status symbol:
It’s clear that the trends TIME noted in its cover story this time last year are not dissipating. But that doesn’t mean the tide has turned against marriage forever. The institution is losing its status as a social obligation, but not necessarily its desirability. Indeed, since marriage is now largely practiced among high-status, college-educated individuals, it may even be becoming more prestigious — the relationship equivalent of owning a luxury car.
With more education and money, marriage becomes a luxury good, desirable for some. If marriage is mainly for people of a certain social class, its effect on society could be more limited.
Two other quick thoughts:
1. Is this the conspicuous consumption of relationships?
2. I wonder how this ties in with a continued push for higher education in the United States. There will still be plenty of people who desire marriage. But this could get particularly interesting with the increased number of women earning college and graduate degrees.
3. How does this fit with the popular image of the defenders of marriage being conservative religious types who also are stereotyped to have less education and lower class standings? Could marriage also become a religious status marker?