Brad Wilcox, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Family Studies and Director of the National Marriage Project at University of Virginia, discussed the main ideas of his book, Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, which is set to be released on Valentine’s Day, 2024.
Of particular interest to Dr. Wilcox is the “closing of the American heart,” or the decline in marriage and childbearing as they impact Americans’ happiness and flourishing. For decades, elite media have painted the single life as the ideal—as one free of obligations that allows the accumulation of wealth, constant travel, and such, especially for women. In reply, Dr. Wilcox points out that the reverse is closer to the truth: married women tend to have far higher wealth than their single counterparts as they approach retirement age and report higher levels of happiness.
Against the mainstream, anti-marriage narrative, Dr. Wilcox presents a data-based wake-up call to America.
The marriage rate has come down by sixty-five percent since 1970. . . What this means is that if you have kids or grandkids who are in their twenties today, about one in three of them will never, ever marry. We’ve never seen this kind of flight away from marriage that we’re going to be seeing in the coming decades.
The same holds true for fertility.
So we’re now at about 1.66 babies on average in the US. And . . . I think we’re going to keep going down when it comes to fertility. And again, what does that mean practically for the people in this audience? It means that twentysomethings today, probably about a quarter of them, will never have children.
Key to restoring a proper respect for marriage and children is providing the data-based case for their flourishing in opposition to the narrative that traditional family and marriage are the cause of societal problems. As Dr. Wilcox makes the scientific case, he is working more with those in other disciplines to advance a compelling, broad-based case for generosity in marriage and life.