In addition to an "education gap" in marriage, there is also a "faith gap," says the new State of Our Unions report on marriage.
"Middle America has lost its religious edge," wrote W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, looking at trends over the past 40 years.
In the 1970s, the moderately educated — blue-collar, working-class Americans with high school diplomas or some college — were more likely to go to church every week than people with college degrees.
That has now reversed: Today 34 percent of college graduates attend weekly religious services, compared with 28 percent of moderately educated Americans, said the report, which was jointly issued by the NMP and Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.
Many highly educated Americans might have "progressive views on social issues in general," said Mr. Wilcox, but "when it comes to their own lives, they are increasingly adopting a marriage mindset and acting accordingly."
The implications for the nation are sobering, said the report.
Most Americans (58 percent) are moderately educated. As they retreat from faith and marriage as a way of life, these families look more like the "fragile" ones led by the least educated, wrote Mr. Wilcox.
If this "downscale" trend continues, "it is likely that we will witness the emergence of a new society," in which marriage and its socioeconomic successes, happiness and stability will be enjoyed primarily by the "upscale," i.e., highly educated, he wrote.
The American Dream — living in a stable family, homeownership and upward mobility — will become "beyond the reach of too many Americans," said Mr. Wilcox, adding that closing the marriage gap was the way to "renew the fortunes" of middle America.
According to the General Social Survey, 30 percent of Americans are college graduates and 12 percent are high school dropouts; the remaining 58 percent are considered high-school educated.
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