Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Poll: Marry later, keep your day job

A wealth of information is coming from a newly released PEW Research Center poll on the values and behaviors related to marriage and parenthood. Much of the press about this report has been focused on the finding that only 41 percent of respondents said that children were very important to a successful marriage - a surprising drop of more than 20 percent compared to 1990. (In fact, sharing of household chores was said to be very important by more of respondents - at 62 percent, a 15 percent increase since 1990.)

In scrolling through the findings, I found lots of interesting tidbits related to dads and older couples. Here are some that stand out:

* 51 percent said "it is a good thing for society that more people are
marrying for the first time at older ages." Only 4 percent said it was a bad thing.

* I've seen lots of blogs from stay-at-home dads (SAHDs), usually touting the benefits thereof. I would have thought that there was a growing acceptance of the practice. That's not what the researchers found. They found that 20 percent of women thought stay-at-home dads were a bad thing for society, the same number who said that 10 years ago. In fact, more men (23 percent) said it was a bad thing than women, a figure I found fascinating. (Almost 40 percent of women said more fathers staying at home so their wives could work full-time was a good thing, compared to only 32 percent of men who said that.)

* On the importance of both mom and dad, 69 percent tended to agree with the following statement: "If someone says a child needs a home with both a father and a mother to grow up happily, would you tend to agree or disagree?" But there was a pretty big difference among men and women on the question: 78 percent of men tended to agree, and 61 percent of women tended to agree. Looked at another way, more than a third of women tended to disagree that a child needs a home with both a father and a mother to grow up happily.

* What's the best age to get married? The answer differed when talking about brides vs. grooms. Only 14 percent said 30-or-over was the ideal age for a woman to marry, while 27 percent said a man should be 30 or older. In fact, more women (30 percent) said a man should be 30 or older than men (24 percent).

* Opposition by women to gay couples raising children has declined in the last decade, dropping from a majority of women opposed (56 percent) in 1997 to 42 percent in the current poll. (I don't have any stats to back this up, but I'm willing to bet that gay couples who adopt or otherwise have children tend to be older than their male-female counterparts.) More men in the recent poll said they opposed gays raisng children (59 percent), but the researchers did not provide previous results for men as the did for women.

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