Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-19991-658-0
Law professors Carbone and Cahn (Red Families v. Blue Families) analyze the economic and cultural dynamics driving decisions of whether or not to marry in today's America. One striking fact is that the only Americans more likely to be married in 2010 than 1970 are women in the top 5% of incomes. The question "why?" occupies much of the remainder of the book. To avoid relying on an avalanche of statistics, the authors humanize their argument with a simple concept. They conjure two fictional young couples, one with economic advantages and one without, whose relationships are evaluated in view of the risks, rewards, and likely outcomes of various life choices. Along with the highly structured cost-benefit analysis of marriage for different economic groups, Carbone and Cahn present an interesting analysis of how family law has institutionalized the realities of the 21st-century workforce. The book is ostensibly about marriage, but the authors implicitly argue that the general decline of marriage signals an increasingly dysfunctional society, the root cause of which is economic inequality that has undermined the rationality of marriage for many and as a consequence weakened basic family structures. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 267 pages - 978-0-19-991659-7
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-19-026331-7
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