Is Marriage Obsolete? What Do You Think?

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Why you should care

Because, with all due respect to Queen B, even if you like it, whether you should put a ring on it is still a debatable proposition.

Join us for Third Rail With OZY, a new TV show presented by OZY and WGBH, where we debate provocative hot topics with experts and celebrities every Friday night. The subject of this week’s show: “Is Marriage Obsolete?” Tune in Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on PBS, or online, and be sure to weigh in on social media (#ThirdRailPBS) and/or email us at thirdrail@ozy.com with your take!

Missed the previous episodes? Catch up here!

It seems like everyone is getting divorced these days. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Anna Faris and Chris Pratt. Great Britain and Europe. But it doesn’t stop there. Fewer and fewer couples are electing to tie the knot in the first place. The number of people in the United States getting married has fallen steadily for decades: Barely half of adults now live with a spouse, down from 70 percent in 1967. And marriage rates are not just falling in the U.S. A United Nations survey of data from more than 100 countries between 1970 and 2005 revealed that marriage rates fell in the vast majority — roughly four-fifths — of them.

A formalized lifetime commitment to one person is certainly starting to feel a bit outdated to some. According to a 2011 Pew Research poll, nearly 40 percent of U.S. respondents agreed that marriage was becoming obsolete, up from 28 percent in 1978.

But marriage rates are not falling across the board. Despite the popular perception that marriage is in decline because of growing educational and employment opportunities for women, one group that is bucking the marriage and divorce trends is college graduates, who may be delaying nuptials but are choosing to marry — and staying married longer — than other Americans. Indeed, there are plenty of financial incentives to think seriously about getting married. “If you care about money,” says Jay Zagorsky, an economist and research scientist at Ohio State University, whose research suggests that people who are cohabiting do not build as much wealth as people who get married, “then marriage is certainly not obsolete.”

Others might argue that the notion of monogamy itself is a relic, giving way to the rise of polyamory.

So what do you think? Is monogamous marriage as a lifelong institution outdated? Let us know by emailing thirdrail@ozy.com or by answering in the comments below.

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