Why are marriage rates declining

Introduction: For my sociology project I am going to look at marriage and find out the different reasons for its downfall over the past few years.My aim is to find out why marriage is declining.The different things I am going to look at are> Divorce Rates> Cohabitation> Changes in women’s roles; Decline in religious beliefsDivorce Rates: Divorce rates have increased over the past years. There are many reasons that people may decide to divorce. The different reasons are; Changes in the attitudes towards marriage; Legal changes; High expectations of a marriageDivorce has never been accepted in religion, but recently as it is becoming more and more popular, religious people are accepting it as a fact of life.Cohabitation: Cohabitation is when two people live together, but aren’t legally married. Many people cohabite as it is a sort of trial for real married life. Most cohabiting couples end up getting married. Some say that marriage is becoming less fashionable and that cohabitation is a good alternative.Chester argues that cohabitation is just a phase. Some cohabiting couples also have children, out side a marriage. Up to 30% of births are outside marriage.Before cohabitation was seen as a deviant thing, but as time went on it became more and more socially accepted. Many people say that there are many disadvantages to cohabitation they are:> Living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce. One study found an increased risk of 46%.> Living together outside marriage increases the risk of domestic violence for women and the risk of physical and sexual abuse for children. One study found that the risk of domestic violence for women in cohabiting relationships was double that in married relationships; the risk is even greater for child abuse.> Unmarried couples have lower levels of happiness and well-being than married couples.Young couples prefer to cohabitate because if things don’t work out they don’t have to seek legal or religious permission to dissolve their union.Changes in women’s roles: three quarters of divorces are started by wives, which means that women are becoming more economically independent, and they don’t always rely on their spouse, as they are sometimes the ‘breadwinners’ of the household. Women’s expectations from the marriage are also increasing. Goode argues that historically marriage, was not based on love but was for economic support, with lower expectations regarding companionship. Nowadays marriage is expected to provide both economic support and love and care. Parsons said that women look for emotional support from their marriage, which isn’t found in the broader society.As women are becoming more successful, getting married could mean the end of their careers. And many women don’t want to get into a relationship/marriage if it puts a strain on their careers. Another aspect of marriage that may put women off marriage is that having children is a part of it, and some women just aren’t ready fro that commitment.Decline in religious beliefs: the influence of religion on people is declining, and many question the purpose of a religious ceremony to tie their marriage, when they have no belief in it. All religions say that marriage is important, many religions emphasis marriage as a key aspect of life. But as religious beliefs are going down so are the marriage rates.I believe that the two reasons that marriage rates are declining are due:> Divorce> Changes in women’s rolesI think that many marriages are ending in divorce; one in two marriages end in divorce. Therefore not many people want to get married any more. Over the years there has been a great increase in the number of divorces. Goode argues that the change in attitudes towards divorce is part of the more general process of secularisation. Secularisation refers to the declining influence of the church and of religious belief. DIVORCE is a legal dissolution of marriage. People who divorced were seen as deviant, as it was against the norms of society, but now it has become accepted. Since 1971, marriages have fallen by one-fifth and divorces have doubled. Divorce rates increased tremendously, after the law was changed, which made it easier to obtain a divorce. The changes in the law lead up to a sudden rise in divorce. In 1969 the law changed again, this meant that a divorce could have been obtained due to “Irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.In Britain the divorce law has changed very slowly:; 1534- Divorce allowed only by Act of Parliament; 1837-Divorce allowed only on grounds of adultery; 1937-Divorce allowed on the grounds of adultery, desertion, cruelty and insanity; 1969-Divorce allowed on the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”The different reasons suggested why people get divorced are:; They married too young; They married for the sake of the child who was “on the way”; They fell out of love with their partner (and in love with someone else); They just “drifted apart”; “Mother in law got in the way”Marriage is essentially a coming together, a sharing, a fighting of problem together, a vital communication between two people- and when this communication breakdown so does the marriage.Although many people blame the law for the increase in divorce rates, people have to remember that the law reflects the public’s opinions. Divorce is more common amongst certain social classes than others. There are higher divorce rates in the working and lower -middle class. Statistics say that divorce is more common among young partners.Another reason that marriages are declining is due to the changes in women’s roles in society: now that women are becoming more and more independent there is no need for them to get married. Women are becoming increasingly economically dependant. Women start off three-quarters of divorces, which may suggest that they don’t rely on their partners for financial support any more.There are many different types of ways to collect information. To find out information for the whole of Britain a sociologist would take a small sample of people who could represent the whole of Britain. A sample of people is to make a general statement for a wide number of people in sampling a small representative group of people are selected from the population.Primary DataPrimary data is information that is done by the researchers. The main way in which sociologists may do this is by:> Questionnaires> Interviews (formal/informal)> ObservationQuestionnairesQuestionnaires are sets of questions, which the sociologists hands out to their sample of people. There are two different types of questions that can either have open or closed answers. Open-ended questions are questions where the person filling out the questionnaire writes down their own answer. Closed-ended questions are where the person ticks the appropriate box.The advantages of questionnaires are that they are fairly quick to do, they can be posted to a wide number of people, and people are more likely to answer any embarrassing questions. It is also easier to analyse the questionnaires once they have been filled out.The disadvantages are that they can not be used for complicated issues, the researcher can not be sure who has filled out the questionnaire, they can not be sure whether or not the person has filled out the questionnaire honestly, and many people can not be bothered to give the questionnaire back to the researcher. Most of the questions in my questionnaire are closed ended questions – where the respondent can chose from a list of possible answers.InterviewsInterviews can be structured or unstructured.Structured interview- a structured interview is when all the questions you want to ask the person you are interviewing are written down, and you being the interviewer follow the questions. A structured interview is good for simple issues.Unstructured interview- this is when the interviewer, asks questions which then lead onto other topics. This form of interviewing is more like a conversation with the person. Unstructured interviews are good for in-depth subjects.The advantages of a interview is that they can be used with complex issues, people are more likely to respond to your question.The disadvantages are that the interviewer may influence, the reply the respondent, this is called Interviewer bias.For my research I used structured interviews, this was so that detailed answers could be given.Secondary DataThis is useful information that is gathered by another researcher. This data may come from:> Mass Media> Official Statistics> Historical Documents> Expressive documentsMass MediaThis data can be very useful, the researcher does a content analysis on anything that is relevant to their topic. This can be adverts, newspapers, magazines etc.For my research I am going to use questionnaires, I have chosen questionnaires as they can be handed out to a wide number of people and I can get a wide sample. From these questionnaires I can also draw graphs related to my evidence. In my questionnaire I have mainly used closed questions, but I have also added in some open-ended questions, so that the people who fill the out can add in their personal views.Instead of using questionnaires I could have just used interviews, as marriage and divorce are very delicate subjects. I decided to use both, as it is easier for me to analyse the data. From analysing the data I can then draw up graphs to present the information I found out.For my research I am going to use questionnaires and interviews.I decided to use a questionnaire as I can look at a wider sample of people. My sample is 35 people; I gave my questionnaires out to both males and females so that I could get a view of all sexes. I gave my questionnaire out to a wide range of different age groups e.g. teachers, (25-40) and pupils (12-18). I also did 5 interviews with married people and questioned them on their views on divorce and cohabitation. My interview was a structured interview; so that I can the person I interviewed can answer the questions that are relevant to my course work, instead of them going to into conversations, which are not relevant to my coursework. With my questionnaire I did a pilot study on a small sample of people, to see if any changes need to take place.After handing out my pilot questionnaire I decided that the following changes needed to be made:> The questions needed to be lettered> That one of the questions needed to re-worded. From doing a pilot study I could alter my questionnaire making it easier to understand. Some of the problems my questionnaire faced was that not everyone answered all of my questions others did not return the questionnaire.A part from doing questionnaires and interviews I am going to be using magazines and newspapers to find facts about divorce and marriage rates. All of the articles that I find will be secondary data. This data can be useful to find out statistics about divorce rates and marriage as a whole.Data found from a magazine or newspapers can be biased as it may have been written to prove a point to people. The data can also go out of date very quickly making it less reliable.For my interview I am going to ask the following questions to my interviewee.> Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?> Do you think that cohabitation is better than getting married? And why?> What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?I am going to ask the above questions to married people so that I can get their views on the topic.The first person that I interviewed was my Tony Williams- my next-door neighbour. Age 47. Tony was married for 13 tears, and then he had a divorce. He is now cohabiting with his new partner.> Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?” I think that women enjoy going to work. It is a break from the typical role of the women. I don’t really think that women rather get a career than get married. I think that women would like to get married and have a career.; His views on cohabitation were:” I think that cohabitation is better than being married, when being married there are many different issues that crop up that you don’t really know how to handle. All of these problems have a bad affect on the marriage. There is less stress in this relationship than in a marriage.”; What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?” I think that divorce rates are increasing as couples rely on each other too much. Another reason is that women don’t like to be in relationships were the household chores are not divided equally. It can also be because people change and grow apart.”My second interview was with my Dad- Ramesh Age -43; Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?” I think that women are choosing careers instead of marriage, as before women used to get married so that they could get financial support. But now that women are successful many don’t feel the need to get married.”; Do you think that cohabitation is better than getting married? And why?” I think that cohabitation is not a good as marriage. With a marriage there are many advantages such as the support you get from one another, although cohabitating couples do support one another I feel that within a marriage there is more security”; What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?” I think that the main reasons for divorce is that when people get married they may not be aware of all of the responsibilities that come along with it. Some people may also change e.g. if someone has been married for 15years their partner may have changed and they end up growing apart. “My third interview was with my Aunty – Tara Kapadia; Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?” I think that women are choosing their careers because there are more jobs available to women now. Women re also becoming very successful in the work place. Some women rather wait until they have a good job and then they get married- which maybe at an older age.”; Do you think that cohabitation is better than getting married? And why?I don’t think that cohabitation is better than marriage; I think that when couples cohabitate they are giving themselves time to get to know each other. I also think that in the end most cohabiting couples do get married”> What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?” I think that the main reason for increasing divorce rates is that couples aren’t willing to give it another chance. Because it is easy to get a divorce people see it as a an easy way out.”My fourth interview was 28-year-old Hema> Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?” I think that the main reason that women are choosing their careers before their marriage is because they are afraid that they won’t be able to go back to work again. They may be scared that when they become mothers that their whole life will change, and if they are successful at work they may feel that the marriage may put a strain on their work life.”> Do you think that cohabitation is better than getting married? And why?” I think that cohabitation is good, as it gives the couple a good chance to find out what their partner is really like. It is a really good taste of married life.”> What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?” I think that one of the main reasons that divorce is increasing is because women have high expectations of the marriage. Also there may be very little equality within the marriage.”My fifth interview was with Dr Hamid> Why do you think that women are choosing their careers instead of getting married?” I don’t think that women are choosing their careers before their marriage. I think that all women fell it is important to have both a career and a family. A career won’t fully satisfies a person, it is important that they also have a good family life”> Do you think that cohabitation is better than getting married? And why?” I don’t think that marriage is better than getting married. I think that people that cohabitate are just going through a phase. I think that cohabitating couples want to have children that is important that they get married”> What do you think the main reason for increasing divorce rates are?> ” I think that one of the main reasons for divorce is a lack of communication. People don’t say what’s on their mind and so arguments are more likely to occur.”From these interviews most of the people felt that cohabitation was just a temporary phase. Many of the women that I interviewed said that both a career and marriage is important. Although more women feel that it is better that they get married after they have a good stable job. In these interviews many different reasons were given for the rise in divorce rates. I think that the main reason the interviewees felt was for the rise in divorce was the lack of communication and that couples don’t discuss any problems they may have. Most of the reasons given for the increase in divorce rates were reasons that were proven correct by many sociologists.I think that the interviews went well, although I should have done interviews with an equal amount of women and men-, which means that some of the data I collected, could be biased in some way, as I interviewed 3 women and 2 men.Compared to questionnaires interviews are a lot better, they allow the researcher to get in-depth answers to questions. Whereas questionnaires, are mainly yes or no answers and are fairly simple to answer.Over my questionnaire went well. Although I did not get all of my questionnaires back, there was still enough information to draw a conclusion from.Most of the people I handed the questionnaire out to, understood the questions and answered them in a sensible way.From my results I can say that one of the main reasons for the increase in divorce rates is that Divorce is becoming easier legally 43%. Another reason that people thought is the cause is that people have high expectations of a marriage 30%.For next question 39% said that cohabitation is more popular than marriage.Also 36% said that most cohabiting couples get married.26% said that successful women are less likely to get married.I also noticed that for the question * instead of marriage couples cohabitate, why do you think this is? Most people said that many people feel that they don’t need to get married to prove their love. Others said that people don’t like to rush into things and prefer to take things slowly.I also noticed that in a few of my questions half of my sample agreed with the point and half disagreed. The three questions in which this happened was why do you think divorce rates are increasing? – People are getting married at a young age? Should cohabiting couples have children? And finally in do you think that only religious people get married? I think that this shows that people weren’t entirely sure on their views on this point.Although these results aren’t that accurate as they are just views of a small sample of people, they do prove my hypothesis to be correct.MARRIAGE CAN WAIT- DAILY MAIL 20/07/01This article proves many of the sociologist’s reasons for the decrease in marriage correct. It also mentions that cohabitation is more popular than marriage. Being a newspaper article some of the data being used could have gone out of date quickly, and the information given could be biased as the newspaper could be writing the article to prove a point.Newspapers are a good source to use for the basic statistics; they give figures and facts to prove their point.IS MARRIAGE OUT OF DATE? – SOCIAL TRENDS 25In the article that I found in a book, it states some of the reasons to why people don’t want to get married at a young age anymore. E.g. “it is out of date” also in one of the tables it says that from 1971 to 1989 cohabitation rose from 7% to 48% – this data found is extremely out of date which means that it is not reliable.Sociologists have found these things to be true. Chester said that cohabitation is becoming more popular but it is only a temporary phase. The articles that I found were fairly interesting and they do prove most of my hypothesis correct.I also found out that divorce is not the only reason that marriage rates are falling it is also due to people’s attitudes about marriage.WHY WE’RE NOT GETTING MARRIED ANY MOREE.g. in one of the articles that I found it said that they don’t need a piece of paper to declare their love. The divorce rates do discourage people from getting married. In the article “Why we’re not getting married any more” it says that ” marriage doesn’t keep people together – look at the divorce rate” in the newspaper article “marriage can wait” – daily mail it also says that women are putting their careers before marriage- which is another reason sociologists give for the decrease of marriage rates. This article also proves that the changing role of the women has an affect on marriage rates. It also states that women are getting married but at a later age.To gain information on marriage and divorce rates I have also used Official statistics, this is information, which is produced by the government. Secondary data is not that important to sociologists but they use it to prove their theory right, or they use to secondary source of information and prove it to be wrong by doing their own research.From doing this piece of research on marriage and the different reasons that marriage rates are going down I conclude that, although marriage rates are going down cohabitation is becoming more popular. I can also conclude that some women do put their careers before their marriage-, which means that they are just getting married at an older age compared to a few years ago.Cohabitating is now seen as a good alternative to married life. Many people now prefer to cohabitate as they see it as a stress free relationship. Many people don’t see the point in getting married, after looking at the divorce rates in Briton they don’t see the point in getting married any more if 1 in 10 marriages end in divorce. As through the law has become easier the number of divorces has dramatically increased. People can get divorced on the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown on the marriage”.Over the years women’s roles have also changed and they are now just as successful as men. Women have become very successful in the work place meaning that many women are getting married at an older age. Many women don’t want to get married, as they may become pregnant and then they may have to quit their jobs to look after the children.After giving out my questionnaire I came to the conclusion that religion has very little to do with marriage.In my hypothesis I stated that the main reasons that marriage rates are declining are> Divorce> Changes in women’s rolesI think that after doing my questionnaire and interviews many people thought that these where the main causes of declining marriage rates. Another reason that people thought affected marriage rates was cohabitation, people felt that more people were cohabiting than actually getting married as they felt cohabitation suited their life style more than marriage.After doing some research I came to the conclusion that marriage rates aren’t going down it’s just that people are waiting longer to get married compared to 10 years ago. I think that nowadays women like to have a good stable career before they get married. Robert Chester argues “Mainly we seem to be witnessing a delay in the timing of marriage.”Chester also says “most people that cohabit get married eventually” this statement was proven correct in my results were 36% said that most cohabiting couples do get married in the end. After doing some research I feel that religion has very little to do with marriage rates and divorce rates. Even though in my questionnaire 37% said that most people that divorce are non-religious.After doing my questionnaire I realised that different people have different vies on marriage, divorce and cohabitation. I also think that although religion has an indirect affect on a person’s view of things like marriage and divorce- it doesn’t have a direct influence on their views.After doing all of my primary and secondary research I feel that my hypothesis has been proven correct.As a whole I feel that my course work went fairly well. Although some of the questionnaires weren’t returned, there was still a high response rate.I also think that my secondary research went well, there was a lot on marriage, divorce and cohabitation in sociological books and on the Internet. I also found some of my information from newspapers. With my interviews I would have liked to do an equal number of interviews with males and females, I could have also interviewed people from different ethnic backgrounds. But with the time I had available five interviews was all that I could have done. But I feel that the interviews that I did do went excellently.If I had more time I think that I would expand my research- I could do marriage rates within different ethnicities, or I could have done the divorce rates of different ethnic people.I think that by doing a pilot study questionnaire really helped as I could improve it. After doing the pilot study I changed my questionnaire so that I was more understandable. One of the changes that I made was that I numbered and lettered my questions, making it easier to fill out.

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