As marriage statistics decline, the federal government has seen fit to put into motion a $5 million national media campaign extolling the benefits and virtues of marriage.
According to statistics, the average age of women getting married these days has risen to 26 for women and to 28 for men. And, as we know from our own research and sources at SingularCity, many Americans these days are choosing not to “tie the knot” at all. Although the creators and advisors to the campaign emphasize they are not “pushing” marriage and just trying to open a dialog on the subject, government watchdogs say the feds have no business using tax dollars for this purpose.
Pennsylvania State University sociologist Paul Amato, is advisor to the U.S. Health and Human Services National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, the organization in charge of the campaign. He stated to a USA Today article, “We’re not telling people, ‘Get married,’ but we also don’t want them to underestimate the benefits of marriage.” Those benefits include health, economic and psychological benefits, and well-being for children.
Proponents claim that this campaign is similar to safety and health crusades such as those about smoking, drunk driving or drug use. The campaign, initiated by the Bush administration in 2005, is now coming up for renewal by the Obama team, which has yet to decide on this expenditure.
The article posted some interesting statistics, gleaned from an online survey by Chicago-based company TRU, which follows trends and patterns of 18 to 30 year olds.
In the survey, 69 percent polled were single and 29 percent were married. Of those singles, 47 percent of them were in a committed relationship, 18 percent were dating and 35 percent were not dating. Only 2 percent of the 3,672 men and women who participated in the online survey were separated, divorced or widowed. Most of those surveyed believe marriage will eventually have a place in their lives, but they were also against being pressured into marriage at this point in their lives.
Brooklyn-based Alternatives to Marriage, a non-profit organization for the rights of unmarried people, want to ask the Obama administration to stop using money for this purpose. Spokesperson Nicky Grist stated, “Should government tell people when to get married? Should government and society privilege marriage over all other relationships? Our answer to these questions is no.”
It is unclear whether the ad campaign will even get off the ground, with critics on both sides of the fence chomping at the bit to put in their support or criticism. Budgets are clearly strained for social advertising campaigns at present. So if this program goes beyond the talking stage is yet to be seen.
Article in USA Today: Federally funded ad campaign holds up value of marriage
|Bella DePaolo speaks out|
|Bella DePaolo, Ph.D., contributor to Singular magazine and SingularCity.com and author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, commented on this article in her blog on the Psychology Today website. Here are a few excerpts and thoughts:|
On debunking this statement from the article, DePaolo says that research suggests that a bevy of benefits await for those who marry, including better health, greater wealth, and more happiness for the couple, and improved well-being for the children.
“Only the ‘wealth’ part is true,” DePaulo writes. “There are 1,136 federal provisions that benefit and protect only those people who are officially married.”
She asserts that many surveys are conducted with a bias toward supporting popular pro-marriage myths while there are other studies that have shown that children of single parents spend more time with extended families than children of married parents, their children don’t differ in school grades, that children of single parents are better readers, and so forth. She offers links to these scientific studies that demonstrate the data — and provide a different picture of singles, their families and children.
In another blog entry, DePaolo thanks the USA writer, Sharon Jayson, for responding to her concerns about the bias in the USA article. Jayson states that the USA Today headline was not meant to show support for the government campaign or to promote marriage.
The bottom line is the methodology used to determine the welfare, well-being and quality of life of being married or unmarried. Surveys and research studies often carry the bias of the particular researcher. Scientific analysis on whether being married — or not — will make you healthier, wealthier and wiser, should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.