Infographic of the Day: Why Do Marriages Fall Apart?

You’ll be surprised to see who values marriage the most in modern America.

Infographic of the Day: Why Do Marriages Fall Apart?

American marriages have never been more precarious. But why do marriages fall apart, and how are families changing as a result?

The following infographic, by Tiffany Farrant and, casts a piercing eye on the institution. Based on the annual report by The National Marriage Project, it paints a picture of marriage becoming a less and less relevant factor in the way American’s live and raise children. The short version: Marriage is simply shrinking as a cultural value; where 66% of women over 15 were married in 1960, the figure has shrunk every decade since.* Now, it’s just 51%:


[Click to visit large version]

But perhaps the most surprising fact is who is getting married — and staying married. Conservative pundits will gleefully tell you that the educated elite are busy destroying every last thing that America holds dear, with family values being at the top of the list. (At the same time, when Levi Johnston first promised to marry Bristol Palin, this was held as some sort of ideal. How’d that work out?) But the fact is that being educated, making more money, waiting on kids, getting married late, and being religious are the most reliable indicators that your marriage will last:


[Click to visit large version]

Now, to say that marriage is disappearing isn’t to say that people are opting to remain single. Rather, it appears that couples are living together in presumably monogamous relationships without getting married at all, while child rearing has become more and more disconnected from the institution of marriage:


[Click to visit large version]

*You might think that one very small reason is the fact that the legal age of marriage has changed over time, but the researchers have controlled for this using statistical methods.


About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.