Does marriage matter anymore?

There are various people out there trying to fathom the rapid drop in crime in the US. Charles Murray is one and produces this graph and suggests as the graph does that increased incarceration has been one of the leading causes for crime dropping and that we should keep locking them up:

Another commentator however thinks that marriage may not be the big factor that people previously thought it was in controlling criminal urges, and that we certainly shouldn’t be looking purely at incarceration rates as a reason why crime is dropping:

For examples, since the early-to-mid-1990s, out-of-wedlock births have increased from less than 30 percent of all births to more than 40 percent of all births today. Yet during that period almost every other social indicator — including crime, drug use, welfare, education test scores, teen suicides, divorce, and abortion –improved. In some areas, like crime and welfare, the progress has the dimensions of a sea change.

It seems that marriage may not actually matter anymore.

Of course they could both be wrong and just manipulating statistics to tell silly stories.


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Arkhad

    There is a really interesting chapter in the book Freakonomics that tears apart the difference between correlation and cause. All the evidence shows that while many factors are correlated with the crime drop the only causal factor was legalized abortion.  Here’s the wikipedia link but the book is compelling reading.

  • John Q Public

    Yes that’s right. A big drop in children of single mothers in the early to mid 70’s US lead to far fewer miscreants coming of age in the 90’s. 

  • Yeti
  • And the pope is worried about gays ruining marriage……! Really us straight people (who keep producing the gay children I might add) are ruining it all by ourselves….and have always done so. Just because you can say you’ve been married for 40-60 years doesn’t mean to say you have actually had a (especially happy) marriage. So it is no wonder people are not doing it as much – why bother when most of your friend’s parents are divorced, people keep cheating, celebs, cheat & get married at a cost of millions for 17 days or some other stupid number. Not too many great examples out there. My husband & I count ourselves as one of the few…but 10 years together is only a blip in a lifetime so time will tell!

  • Paul Rain

    I don’t think this is really a valid argument. You have to look at where America’s crime problem comes from. If the American population looked like the cast of ‘Starship Troopers’, their murder rate would be at the same level as Singapore’s. Yes, measures of social pathology have gone up for the general population, but they were already at catastrophic levels for the subgroups that commit most crime.

    I’m pretty sure Japan wouldn’t be as nice a place as it is if no Japanese people were married, but it wouldn’t look like Detroit.