A recent survey has revealed a fascinating shift in American identity. According to the poll, Americans consider parenting more central to their identity than being a spouse or partner. This shift comes as the U.S. marriage rate continues to decline.
The survey, conducted annually for nine years, found that the percentage of married adults dropped from 55 percent in 2015 to 51 percent in 2023 among those aged 25 and older. Despite this decline, the rate of people identifying as parents remained steady.
One of the most intriguing findings of the survey was the growing divide between church-going Republicans and non-religious Democrats when it comes to views on marriage. Christopher F. Karpowitz, the survey’s co-investigator, described this divide as “storm clouds” in the cultural landscape.
Karpowitz noted that support for the institution of marriage has softened, particularly among those more likely to marry, such as individuals with higher incomes and college degrees. Democrats, too, have shown some softening in their views on marriage.
On the other hand, the survey revealed concerns from both sides of the political spectrum. Church-going Republicans were found to be more approving of marriage but less willing to support it with tax dollars compared to Democrats, who supported public spending programs for families and children.
The survey also touched on various other aspects of American life and values. One notable finding was that more than one-third of adults surveyed believed that books with LGBTQ characters should not be available in schools. Additionally, while most respondents agreed that sex education in schools should emphasize personal hygiene, healthy relationships, and contraception only half believed it should teach the importance of consent.
Regarding parenting, almost half of the respondents found it acceptable to use spanking as a form of discipline. Mental health emerged as the top issue affecting families, with many participants expressing feelings of isolation or exclusion.
Interestingly, despite concerns about social media, most parents allowed their children aged 10-18 to access platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Facebook and Snapchat were also popular among children.
The survey’s advisory board included analysts from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who highlighted the role of ideology in predicting marriage rates. W. Bradford Wilcox, a senior fellow at AEI, emphasized that conservatives are more likely to get married and tend to have happier marriages.
The nationally representative poll was conducted online by YouGov and involved 3,000 adults. The survey took place from August 3-15, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.