Thornton, Arland. 2012. "International Family Change And Continuity: The Past And Future From The Developmental Idealism Perspective." In Marriage at the Crossroads: Law, Policy, and the Brave New World of Twenty-First-Century Families edited by Marsha Garrison and Elizabeth Scott.
The institution of marriage is at a crossroads. Across most of the industrialized world, unmarried cohabitation and nonmarital births have skyrocketed while marriage rates are at record lows. These trends mask a new, idealized vision of marriage as a marker of success as well as a growing class divide in childbearing behavior: the children of better educated, wealthier individuals continue to be born into relatively stable marital unions while the children of less educated, poorer individuals are increasingly born and raised in more fragile, nonmarital households. Meanwhile, growing numbers of same-sex couples seek access to marriage as an important political and personal goal. These trends have generated political controversy and pose a number of challenges for policy makers: Should access to marriage be extended? Should lawmakers increase or reduce government support for marriage? The interdisciplinary approach offered by this edited volume provides tools to inform the debate and to assist policy makers in resolving questions about marriage at a critical juncture. Drawing on the expertise of social scientists and legal scholars, the book will be a key text for anyone who seeks to understand marriage as a social institution and to evaluate proposals for marriage reform.