Forget all that stuff you've been reading about high divorce rates and all those couples who are just... living together.
Marriage is still the basic thread in our national fabric, the United States government declared yesterday.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans are married or will get married at some point in their lives, the Census Bureau said in a new study called "Perspectives on American Husbands and Wives."
While acknowledging that the divorce rate has more than doubled (from 2.2 to 5.0 per 1,000 people) since 1960, and that one of every five married persons has been divorced, the bureau stressed that "most of those who divorce will ultimately remarry; so Americans spend most of their adult lives married."
They not only marry, but they stay married to the some person, the report showed. Eighty-five percent of men and 88 percent of women have been married only once, it said.
The study also noted that interracial marriages increased by 36 percent, from 310,000 to 421,000 couples, between 1970 and 1977.
"Between the 1960 and 1970 censuses, the number of married couples consisting of husbands and wives of different races increased by 108 percent (from 148,000 to 310,000).
"Of the 421,000 interracial couples in 1977, 125,000 were black/white couples. This category of couples increased by 6,000 or 92 percent over the 1970 figure (65,000). Three-fourths of the black/white couples in 1977 had a black husband and a white wife," the report said. The comparable proportion in 1970 was 63 percent.
Stephen Rawlings, who wrote the bureau's report, attributed this increase to "more acceptance and proximity between the races."
But he noted in the report that "despite the continuing increase in interracial marriage, it is still a rare occurrebce.The 421,000 interracial couples in 1977 accounted for barely 1 percent of all 48 million married couples."
The study said that "marriage of persons of Spanish origin to persons of other ethnic origins is a considerably more frequent occurrence than interracial marriage. In 1977 there were 762,000 couples in which one spouse was of Spanish origin and one was not."
Rawlings, a family analyst, said the report was the first of its kind done by the Census Bureau. It resulted from a request by the Commerce Department's chief economomist, Courtenay M. Slater, that the bureau undertake a family study "that gives equity to wives," Rawlings said.
"In the past, when we were determining how many couples were to be considered college-educated, we would look at the husband's education and say the figure was 18 percent," he said. "Now we look at the wife's education as well and we can say that 22 percent of the couples are college-educated."
Previously, census analysts trying to determine the percentage of "professional" couples -- those with one spouse in a profession -- looked only at male's occupations. Now they look at jobs held by both spouses. "Since we started taking account of wives' occupations, we can say that 17 percent of all married couples are 'professional' rather than 12 percent," Rawlings said.
The report also showed that in about a third of the families where the wife had income, the women made about the same or more than their husbands. Since about half half the wives had no income at all, only one of every six married women had incomes comparable to or greater than their husbands, the study said.
The report also contained these findings:
Median family income for all married-couple families was $16,271 in 1976. For whites, it was $16,554; for blacks, $13,280 and for Hispanics, $11,969.
Eighty-one percent of married man and 47 percent of married women were in the labor force in 1977.
Three-quarters of married couples own the homes in which they reside. For whites, the figure was 78 percent; for blacks, 61 percent.
The average size of married-couple families was 3.42 persons.
About one-third of married men and a quarter of married women have had some college or graduate school education.
May-December marriages are not that common. Among married men 45 and older, about 1 in 900 had a wife under age 25. "In only about 7 percent of all couples was the hisband 10 or more years older."