Valentine's Day report: seven ways marriage is changing

It seems Valentine's Day, when 10 percent of all marriage proposals take place, is one of the few constants in the institution of marriage. Here are seven ways marriage has changed from 50 years ago, when marriage was between a man and a woman barely into their twenties, of the same race and social class, till death did them part.

By , Correspondent

3. The Americans most likely to marry

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    Some experts have attributed a drop in the marriage rate to falling religious conviction among blue-collar Americans.
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Do certain demographic groups enjoy higher marriage rates? “We’ve seen a growing class divide in marriage rates,” says Ms. Coontz. Marriage rates are lowest among poor and poorly educated Americans, and highest among affluent, college educated Americans.

Sociologists attribute the gap to several factors: a decline of blue-collar jobs, which strains existing marriages and prevents potential unions; less religious conviction in marriage as a way of life; and increasing permissiveness among blue-collar Americans (traditionally bulwarks of conservative values) toward divorce, premarital sex, and having children outside marriage.

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