For many men and women, there is this pressure that begins, likely somewhere in their twenties or thirties, that tells them in order to be successful they must get married. Studies have shown that men and women are waiting until they are older to marry, but that trend doesn’t mean that society has stopped putting a lot of emphasis on the value of marriage.
And despite the divorce rate, divorce is still seen by many as a failure. From a societal viewpoint, married people are viewed as more beneficial to society, which is why they are granted certain incentives by the government. If a recent study is correct, however, that reasoning might need to be reassessed.
The Council on Contemporary Families looked at data to compare how much single men and women give back to society compared to married men and women. Research reportedly shows that never-married men and women help their parents out significantly more than married men and women. Research also suggests that married people volunteer less than singles and have fewer connections with their extended family. Basically, the study seems to indicate that when people get married, their focus zeroes in on their small family unit.
Some singles and equal rights advocates challenge society’s preferential treatment of married people. They contend that many have not married because of the hard work they do to become professionally successful and contribute to society. Why should lacking a partner or marriage license make them any less worthy of government incentives, including the rights provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Incentives and legal options related to marriage are certainly a hot topic right now, especially due to the ongoing debate regarding same-sex marriage and civil unions. The study mentioned in this post seems to suggest that singles, including those who have divorced, might have reason to fight for more rights themselves. What do you think? Does society and government as a whole place too much importance and value on marriage?
St. Petersburg Times: “Though public bias favors marriage, single people may contribute more to community,” Tara Parker-Pope, Sep. 22, 2011