18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." .....
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:18, 21-24)

Nothing has changed! Let's see the facts.


While debate on the role and importance of marriage has been raging for years overseas, in New Zealand such debates are not so frequently heard. International research reveals various ways in which marriage is beneficial to society and individuals, including more than 100 years of research that shows married people have better physical health, on average, than unmarried. Married people get sick less often and tend to live longer than single or divorced people. Emerging research also suggests it is likely there are health differences between those who are married and those living in de facto relationships.

There are three main reasons offered for these health differences. One is that married couples' long-term mutual investment in each other encourages healthy habits and discourages unhealthy ones. Unlike those in more casual relationships, married couples expect to rely on each other in the long term for childcare and financial support, so they are more likely to take an active interest in each other's health. While people living together in de facto relationships may also benefit from this to some degree, statistics show that on average marriage lasts longer than de facto relationships. Therefore, accumulated health benefits are not as significant over time outside of marriage. Secondly, married couples generally accumulate more wealth and this is associated with better health, due to improved diets, and a greater ability to visit doctors and dentists and to take out medical insurance. There is also a link between relationship quality and physical health. Married couples tend to have higher quality relationships than those in less formal relationships, often because of the added security that comes from long-term mutual commitment.

Internationally, sceptics who question the benefits of marriage have argued that marriage does not cause better health for adults-or any other associated advantages observed for the married-but that healthier and wealthier people are more likely to marry, therefore ensuring that they will continue to have the best health over the long term. The weight of social science evidence, though, does not support this view. This is because long-term research shows health advantages for married couples accrue after they marry; they are not evident beforehand. Similarly, after divorce, physical health tends to deteriorate, which indicates there are a number of factors associated with marriage that lead to better health. The fact that there are many social and taxpayer costs related to ill health reminds us that marriage is not only personally beneficial, it is a social good as well, not just for individuals, but for the whole community.

Source: Maxim Institute Real Issues No. 263


100,000 children in need have been sponsored

World Vision President thanks national women's conference in Seattle for reaching milestone

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (ANS) -- According to the latest numbers released by World Vision, 3 million children benefited from sponsorship worldwide in 2006, including 850,000 who are supported by people in the United States.

At a national conference on June 30, World Vision US President Rich Stearns thanked Women of Faith for making a huge statement for children in need around the world by announcing that Women of Faith had reached the 100,000 milestone in child sponsorships.

In an average weekend conference, 300-400 children are sponsored for World Vision. At this most recent Women of Faith Conference, held in Seattle's Key Arena, more than 1,200 children were sponsored, resulting in a record 15 percent response rate and helping Women of Faith reach the goal of 100,000 children sponsored. More than 3.4 million women have attended over 275 Women of Faith events held in more than 70 cities across North America.

Featured at this year's event were Christian author Max Lucado, singer Nicole C. Mullen and author Carol Kent. Max Lucado is also the Senior Minister at Oak Hills Church in Texas. Lucado made a special child sponsorship appeal to those attending the Seattle conference. Many of the featured speakers at the event have gone on World Vision trips, including their most recent trip to Kenya in January, which was Women of Vision's fifth trip with World Vision.

At the conference, Rich Stearns presented Women of Faith with a small replica of the World Vision Jesus Statue on display in front of World Vision Headquarters in Federal Way, Washington. The statue shows Jesus tenderly holding a child and offering a loaf of bread to the hungry. World Vision works in 100 countries, helping approximately 100 million people every year.

World Vision has been a ministry partner for the past ten years and to date they have impacted more children than any single sponsor group. The theme of this year's conference: "Amazing Freedom," the kind of freedom Jesus talks about in John 8:26, "So if the Son makes you free - you are truly free."

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of a religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, visit www.worldvision.org.


Herald Sun (Australia) July 02, 2007

CHILDREN, friends and pets are more likely to make us smile than a big wad of cash, according to a new survey. The ACNielsen survey for Centro Properties Group, which runs the Smile with Centro survey in conjunction with a photographic competition, polled 1471 Australians to find out what made them smile. The saying that "money can't buy happiness" was confirmed in the survey which revealed 94 per cent of Australians rated factors other than money as things that make them smile most, Centro Properties Group spokeswoman Lisa Charter said.

The survey found that children and babies made 33 per cent of people smile, followed by family and friends (28 per cent), then pets and animals (22 per cent), nature (8 per cent), while money only made 6 per cent of Australians smile, she said. Dr Timothy Sharp from the Happiness Institute said the results indicated people gained more happiness from relationships. "It (smiling) is a natural human expression that elevates the senses and boosts the level of serotonin in the brain," Dr Sharp said. "The findings support my theory that happy people have more and better quality relationships than those who don't smile, because it is an important non-verbal sign we give to others as a way of sharing and eliciting positive emotions," he said.

READ MORE - http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22002315-662,00.html


Many Americans are concerned about the increasing rift between marriage and raising children, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre. Even though marriage rates and people's perceptions of the value of marriage have changed, most people surveyed were concerned about the number of children born to unmarried parents and the majority still believed that a child needs both a mother and a father to grow up happily.

However, people in the survey did not prioritise children in the answers to all questions. The number of people who indicated that children were very important in a marriage has declined from 65 percent in 1990 to 41 percent today. Also, while having children was ranked number three on a list of nine priorities that make a successful marriage in 1990, today it ranks second to last, behind factors such as "sharing household chores," "adequate income" and a "happy sexual relationship." The survey also showed that 65 percent of respondents believed the main purpose of marriage was the mutual happiness and fulfilment of the spouses while 23 percent thought the main purpose of marriage was making a union for bearing and raising children. The remainder of respondents believed that the main purpose of marriage was both or neither of these options.

Although this survey shows that Americans still think that marriage is important for children and, in the abstract, that it is best for people with children to be married, this does not seem to filter down into their personal actions or into what they view as priorities for marriage. Overall it seems there has been a cultural shift in the way Americans view marriage; while the family used to be viewed more as a unified whole, today it appears to be viewed in a more compartmentalised manner. Marriage is important to most people, as are children, but not necessarily in the same way that they used to be. Because marriage is associated with a range of benefits for children, and divorce can place children at risk in many ways, the challenge for the future will be to help equip people with the tools to make their aspirations for marriage a reality and to realise the centrality of children in such a vision.

Source: http://pewresearch.org/assets/social/pdf/Marriage.pdf


According to new figures released by A C Nielsen this week, New Zealanders still value marriage. The survey looked at 500 participants from New Zealand, as part of an international study on marriage and relationships, and found that there is still a strong appreciation for marriage in New Zealand, with 58 percent of participants considering marriage as one of their lifetime ambitions. It was also found that a large amount of support exists for cohabitation, as 64 percent of New Zealanders surveyed were of the opinion that a "stable, long-term relationship" was of equal value to a marriage.

There is a danger in placing this kind of faith in cohabiting relationships. A number of studies exist on the substantial differences between marriage and cohabitating relationships. The commitment to marriage offers far greater family stability, even after taking into account socio-economic factors. This research tends to show that those in cohabiting relationships are generally less committed, and therefore the relationships have a tendency to break down more often, regardless of how 'stable' they appear to be. Some studies suggest that a connection exists between commitment and levels of depression, with lower levels of depression found in those who are married, due to the committed and permanent nature of their relationship.

It is promising that within our society, respect can still be found for the value of marriage. This report shows that stability and commitment are still considered to be of high worth, a fact that should persuade us that marriage needs to be sought after and encouraged. (Source: Maxim Institute Real Issues 8 March 2007)


The Social Justice Research Group's landmark report, Breakdown Britain: Interim Report on the State of the Nation, continues to stir debate, as British politicians increasingly begin to recognise the importance of marriage as a social glue, and the marriage rate in Britain reaches historic lows.

The report's emphasis on dissolution, dysfunction and "Dadlessness" continues to be controversial with some deriding it for daring to argue that these are leading causes of poverty, educational failure, intergenerational relationship instability, delinquency and teenage pregnancy.

The survey data collected showed that poverty and indebtedness were the most concerning factors for families in distress, and family breakdown clearly contributed to this. After a divorce, women were, on average, 18 percent worse off financially; men by 2 percent. The report shows that family dissolution not only contributes to higher poverty rates, it also leads to further family breakdown. Children whose parents divorced generally had a lower socioeconomic base and less stable relationships in adulthood, which increased the possibility that they too would divorce. Further, children whose parents separated, or whose parents had had children in their teens, were more likely to be teenage parents themselves, thus continuing the poverty cycle.

This report adds weight to a growing body of international research indicating that a father's absence is often associated with risks for children's development. Research shows that active father involvement matters a great deal to children, even after taking income, a mother's involvement and various other demographic variables into account.

The authors of this report are bravely tackling a thorny political issue. In society's attempt to protect parents and children who have suffered family breakdown from feeling any kind of offence, we are skating dangerously close to saying that dads don't really matter. It is time we had the courage to face up to the consequences of relationship dysfunction. If we do not, children will continue to miss out. (Maxim Institute Newsletter - Real Issues - 242)

You may read the full report at...



Crime escalated in the seventies, and while many factors have contributed to this increase, the research clearly shows that the key factor was the decline in marriage and the rise in illegitimacy: 'a lack of married parents, rather than race or poverty, is the principal factor in the increase in crime' (Rising Illegitimacy: America's Social Catastrophe, by Patrick F Fagan, Heritage Foundation 1994).

For well over a decade, policy makers have known that paying women to have children outside of marriage - substituting welfare for husbands - will lead to an increase in crime. Yet rather than change the system, most MPs and political parties have continued to support the status quo.

The reason is, of course, that they are afraid of a backlash if they suggest that the Domestic Purposes Benefit should be changed. Even though its use has been dramatically altered over the years ' it was introduced to support women to move out of violent relationships but is now largely being used to fund girls and women who have never been married to raise children - the DPB has always been the sacred cow of welfare.

State sponsored illegitimacy is the root cause of crime and the public should start demanding reform. Given politicians are unwilling to change the failed system they have created, it is up to the public to force the issue.

Sensible Sentencing is a voluntary organisation that is committed to making New Zealand a safer country. They are doing this by building community support for their cause (see their webpage at http://www.safe-nz.org.nz/). Their founder, Garth McVicar is the NZCPD Guest Commentator this week. In his opinion piece he laments an appalling lack of leadership by the Prime Minister: 'There have been seven murders in the first two weeks of 2007. Have you seen our Prime Minister on TV condemning this lawlessness, encouraging the police, rallying the community, guiding us'giving us hope for a better future?' (Click the sidebar link to read the article>>>).

It is long past time that the Prime Minister and government acknowledged that New Zealand's thirty-year social experiment of trying to replace fathers with a welfare cheque has not only failed, but has created disastrous unintended consequences.

Source: Newman Weekly 22 January 2007


By Amy Iggulden
(Filed: 18/09/2006)

Children are missing out on crucial time reading, playing and eating with their parents, according to a study published today that reveals nine out of 10 families suffer from unsocial working hours.

Eight out of 10 working fathers and more than half of all working mothers are forced to work outside the hours of 8am-7pm, Monday to Friday, says a report from the National Centre for Social Research.

Family time together eating, reading and playing are fundamental for a child's healthy development says the Relationships Foundation

Family life is being irrevocably damaged because few parents ever make up the time lost, the study of 11,000 people found.

Mothers working unsocial hours are losing eight hours a week with their children, while a third of working fathers are losing more than 15.

Only 17 per cent of families had a parent working the "normal" nine-to-five week.

"We must take collective responsibility [because] we are depriving children of time with their parents," said Michael Clark, the chief executive of the Relationships Foundation, a partner on the study.

"Parents of school-age children should be guaranteed one weekend day off a week."

The study, entitled Working atypical hours: what happens to family life?, claims to offer the first detailed glimpse of how unsocial hours affect families in Britain.

It found that in nine out of 10 families in which both parents work, at least one parent was forced to work late into the evening and at weekends.

For children aged eight to 10, this meant a reduction in the amount of time spent practising reading and playing games, the report said, while children from 11 to 13 spent "significantly" more time on their own. However, 14- to 18-year-olds with parents working unsocial hours spent time socialising with friends rather than doing homework.

Children of all ages ate less regularly with their parents, particularly where the mother worked unsocial hours.

Three out of four families have a parent who works weekends, but the large majority of mothers were dissatisfied with the situation, with 78 per cent unhappy about working Sundays.

"We know that family time together and activities such as eating, reading and playing together are fundamental for a child's healthy development," said a summary of the report by the Relationships Foundation.

"This makes it highly likely that unsocial work as it stands. . . could have a significant detrimental effect on children. Children are clearly suffering.

"Working patterns of parents could have a long-term effect on the sustainability of our society."

Leading charities backed the report and called for wider debate into the effect of unsocial working hours on children's development.

Sarah Jackson, the chief executive of the charity Working Families, said the long working hours culture was in danger of stunting children's creative growth. "The unsocial hours people are working is having a definite impact on family life," she said.

"The pendulum of importance and values seems to have swung away from families and towards work, which means children's development suffers.

"Perhaps we are in danger of raising a generation of workers who are not as creative as employers want."

The children's charity NCH said better structures for coping with a 24-hour economy needed to be created.

Clare Tickell, the charity's chief executive, said: "We need serious thought about how we can meet the very strong responsibilities we have towards bringing up children in the 24-hour economy, because it isn't going to change."

The new research follows a warning from more than 100 academics and experts last week that childhood is being poisoned by the insidious influence of junk food, marketing, over-competitive schooling and electronic entertainment.

Their intervention prompted The Daily Telegraph to launch its Hold on to Childhood campaign.

The Children's Society is today launching The Good Childhood Inquiry into the state of modern childhood, and released research which said children value family and friendship more than money and material goods.

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said it was providing a series of measures to help parents, including extending maternity pay to 39 weeks; extending the right to request flexible working hours for carers of adults from April next year; and offering new rights to paternity leave.



by Patrick F. Fagan - The Heritage Foundation

' Over the past thirty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers .
' State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime .
' The type of aggression and hostility demonstrated by a future criminal often is foreshadowed in unusual aggressiveness as early as age five or six.
' The mother's strong affectionate attachment to her child is the child's best buffer against a life of crime.
' The father's authority and involvement in raising his children are also a great buffer against a life of crime.

... a closer look at the data shows that the real variable is not race but family structure ... The incidence of broken families is much higher in the black community.

Teenage criminal behavior has its roots in habitual deprivation of parental love and affection going back to early infancy . Future delinquents invariably have a chaotic, disintegrating family life. .. This hostility is established in the first few years of life. By age six, habits of aggression and free-floating anger typically are already formed.

... the incidence of delinquent behavior was higher in intact homes characterized by a high degree of conflict and neglect than it was in broken homes without conflict. ..the lack of emotional attachment to parents is more strongly related to delinquency than is an intact home. &Breakup of his parents' marriage during the first five years of his life places a child at high risk of becoming a juvenile delinquent.

... the real work of reducing violent crime is the work of rebuilding the family . Instead, thanks to policies that do little to preserve the traditional family and much to undermine it, government continues to misdiagnose the root cause of social collapse as an absence of goods and services. This misdiagnosis is government's own contribution to the growth of crime. Having misdiagnosed, it misleads .

Despite the good news that overall crime rates have dropped in recent years, the frightening news is that both the level and viciousness of teenage violent crime have been rising steadily. More ominous still, this was set in motion sixteen to eighteen years ago, when these violent teenagers were born into chaotic family and social conditions. Since then these conditions have become more prevalent, and we will see a continued rise in violent teenage crime. Furthermore, America is headed toward a 50 percent out-of-wedlock birthrate sometime in the next twelve to twenty years, inching more and more of the country closer to today's inner-city illegitimacy rate. If this trend is not reversed, Americans must prepare for extensive and serious erosion of public safety and practical freedoms.

Full Article - http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/BG1026.cfm


By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent - The Times - London

Rod Morgan: "Most children like a reasonably structured existence and many don't have it" (ALEX BENWELL)

THOUSANDS of children are ending up in court because teachers and care home workers are afraid to discipline them for bad behaviour, the head of the Government's youth justice quango says today.

The police are increasingly being called in to deal with behaviour that only a few years ago would have been handled by staff in schools or residential care homes.

Speaking to The Times, Rod Morgan, chairman of the Youth Justice Board, says that it is time to confront the political correctness in schools that prevents teachers from disciplining pupils in the way that they used to ' in part because they fear that parents will challenge them and even take legal action.

Mr Morgan goes on to give warning that the consequences of lone-parent families and the absence of male role models are increasing the number of young children who no longer know how to behave.

'What many young children lack are any sort of boundaries being set to their behaviour so that literally they don't know how to behave properly. There has not been a role model to explain things and to set boundaries. Most children we know like a reasonably structured existence and many don't have it,' he said.

Mr Morgan, a former professor of criminology, is urging the Government and local authorities to take action to give teachers and care home workers the confidence to deal with bad behaviour and minor acts of criminal damage themselves rather than calling in the police.

He said that, without change, increasing numbers of young people would be drawn into the formal criminal justice system, a trend that has accelerated since Labour came to power. Between 35,000 and 40,000 young people are today being prosecuted in front of magistrates. Ten years ago many would have been punished informally outside the courts.

'What magistrates are telling us is that many young people are coming before the youth courts who, in their judgment, don't need to be [there].

'In children's care homes what we are finding is that many children who are committing minor acts in residential accommodation, minor acts of criminal damage or have thrown a punch at a fellow child or member of staff ' the police are more and more being used as a disciplinary back-up force for ill-supported and ill-trained residential staff.'

Mr Morgan's comments come as official documents show that the care home linked to the murder of Damilola Taylor had a record of violence and absconding. Daniel Preddie, then aged 12, was staying at the Abbey Street home in Bermondsey, East London, when he escaped and, with his brother Ricky, 13, went on to kill Damilola. Reports by the inspectors of Southwark Council, shown to The Sunday Telegraph, gave warning that children regularly absconded from the home, 'knowing that staff were not allowed to use force to stop them'.

Mr Morgan blames changes in demographics and the rise in the proportion of lone-parent families, particularly those headed by a woman, for the problems.

'We know that the proportion of families where young parents ' often mothers bringing up a child alone without the presence of a male role model and a father present on the scene, and without the support of an extended family ' are having to cope with more and more challenging child behaviour in fairly deprived areas.'

He said that some children were being raised in homes without even the most basic discipline being imposed, such as instructions about what time they should be up or back indoors. That behaviour presented serious problems in schools, where teachers' confidence was undermined by the threat of being taken to court or by parents who have no regard for authority.

'I think teachers, for example, are increasingly concerned about litigation, about the fact that more and more parents are less deferential to the teacher or authority. They are reluctant to use traditional disciplinary methods. As a result police are increasingly being called in.

'This has to be confronted. Teachers have to be supported to explain the need for boundaries, to enforce boundaries, but to do it in a manner which remains inclusive and to do it in a more assertive manner for those parents who may collude with their own children's bad behaviour or not fully comprehend the consequences of their children's behaviour.'

Young offenders

# The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales was set up by Jack Straw when Labour came to power with the job of overseeing the justice system for juveniles in England and Wales

# It works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure their safe custody. Its budget in 2005 was £377,000

# The board has been chaired by Rod Morgan since 2004. It advises the Home Secretary on the operation and standards of the youth justice system. It also purchases custody and remand places for children and young people

# Mr Morgan, a father of three, was Reader and Professor of Criminal Justice at Bristol University between 1989 and 2001 before becoming Chief Inspector of Probation in England and Wales and then chairman of the YJB


***More than 40% of marriages end in divorce. The number of divorces granted in England and Wales in 2004 was 153,399. More than half of these couples had at least one child aged under the age of 16

***Nearly one in two children in the UK are born to unmarried parents, compared with one in eight in 1980. Some 2.3 million children (26%) currently live in lone parent households, compared with 15% in 1986

***The median duration of marriages ending in divorce is a little over 11 years. The average cohabitation relationship (not ending in marriage) is a just 39 months.

***One in four single women aged 18 - 49 are living with a man to whom they are not married

***Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe. In 2002 legally induced abortions were carried out on 3,514 girls aged 15 or under (nearly 1,000 were aged 14 or younger)

***The percentage of births outside marriage continues to rise. In 2004, 42.2 per cent of births were outside marriage, up from 41.4 in 2003

***In 2004, more than 500 legally induced abortions were carried out in England and Wales EVERY DAY - a total of 185,400. (82% were funded by the NHS)

***In December 2004 around 100,000 people were living in temporary accommodation. Family breakup was cited as the main cause.

***A child whose mother is living with a partner (not the child's father) is 33 times more likely to be exposed to abuse than a child living with its natural parents who are married

***5,000 children every week suffer the pain and anguish of a broken home. 4,000 children call Childline every day

The relentless erosion of our quality of life in Britain is, we believe, a result of family breakdown and the abandonment of Christian family values. Social problems such as Domestic violence, Dysfunctional Families, Drug and Alcohol dependency, Anti-social Behaviour, Abuse and Homelessness often have their roots in family breakdown. The evidence is all around us.

Family breakdown is estimated to cost the British taxpayer £16 billion every year, but even this staggering figure pales to insignificance when we count the social cost. Behind the statistics lies human misery on a grand scale - and it reaches into all corners of our society.

Source: http://gnfc.org.uk/


Newman Weekly is a weekly article by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Debate, a web-based forum at www.nzcpd.com for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas.

This week, concerns over youth gangs and violence have hit the headlines. It is a problem that can be found to a greater or lesser degree in many towns and cities throughout the country.

The debate over what can be done has ranged widely from more council amenities for young people, making education more relevant and improving after-school activities, to more pro-active truancy monitoring, more effective parenting, greater coordination between social agencies, and better policing.

While suggestions on what should be done to improve the situation have been free flowing, little has been said about the underlying causes of the problem. The reason is that it is no longer considered to be politically correct to discuss issues relating to personal responsibility, the home and the family. Yet the reality is that these are at the heart of the problem: children raised in stable, loving families, are more likely to join sports teams, rather than gangs.

Any discussion with police or those who work with troubled youth will quickly identify that the largest proportion of them come from homes where their biological father is absent: children raised in families without a father, where there is inadequate supervision and a lack of socialisation, are far more likely to become involved in anti-social behaviour and crime, than those raised with a dad.

Chief Youth Court Judge, Andrew Beecroft, in a speech at Parliament a few years ago identified six characteristics of serious youth offenders: '85 percent are male, the majority have no contact with their father, 80 percent do not go to school and have chronic drug or alcohol addictions, most have psychological or psychiatric issues, and 50 percent ' up to 90 percent in some courts ' are Maori'.

He explained that many of these boys have no adult male role model: '14, 15, and 16 year-old boys seek out role models like 'heat seeking missiles'. It's either the leader of the Mongrel Mob or it's a sports coach or it's Dad. But an overwhelming majority of boys who I see in the Youth Court have lost contact with their father. 'What I'm saying is that I'm dealing in the Youth Court with boys for whom their Dad is simply not there, never has been, gone, vanished and disappeared'.

Judge Beecroft went on to say: ''every single young boy that we have dealt with has been abused as a child'.

This is why I am so passionately opposed to public policy and practice that encourages family breakdown and excludes biological fathers. A biological father is a child's traditional protector. Removing him from the lives of his children leaves them extremely vulnerable to abuse, neglect and failure.

That is not to say that every child being raised without a dad that ends up in trouble, or for that matter that every child raised in a loving two parent household by their biological parents, turn out to be little angels. But, on the balance of probability, children raised without their natural father, will face greater difficulties in life, than children brought up with their dad to love, guide and protect them.

In 1990, Dr Daniel Amneus, Professor of English at California State University, in his book The Garbage Generation put it this way: 'Most criminals come from female-headed families. Most gang members come from female-headed families. Most addicts come from female-headed families. Most rapists come from female-headed families. Most educational failures come from female-headed families. Most illegitimate births occur to females who themselves grew up in female-headed families'.

He then went on to say: 'If we are to deal meaningfully with crime, what we must do is reduce the number of female-headed families; what we must do is prevent the divorce courts from expelling half of society's fathers from their homes; what we must do is terminate a welfare system which displaces millions of men from the principal male role, that of family-provider. What we must do is make the father the head of the family'.

Here in New Zealand over the years, our policy makers have steadfastly ignored that wisdom. Instead, driven by a feminist agenda, which seeks to create equality for women by undermining men, society has now reached a sorry state: taxpayers are funding a hundred thousand women and girls to struggle to raise their children on their own, there is an epidemic of tens of thousands of abused children, and there is now an escalation in youth gangs and violence.

Boys are falling further and further behind at school now that we have taken away an external examination system that encouraged them to strive and excel. Men are finding themselves excluded from more and more of the professions like teaching that used to largely be their domain. Increasing numbers of fathers are being alienated from their children by our female-biased family court. Dads and grandfathers up and down the country are now afraid to hug and kiss their children in public.

It has all gone too far, and the sooner we return to some balance and common sense, the better.

To turn the situation around, we need to realise that New Zealand society is stronger when men and women both play an equal role, and that it is not in anyone's interest to marginalize either. Further, we should be encouraging and supporting strong and committed families by removing the incentives in the welfare system and in family law that have lead to the massive undermining of the family.


Despite controversies over what the "family" is, there is considerable evidence about what the consequences of family life are for individuals. For instance:

* Between 1973 and 1981, Yankelovich found that about three-fourths of Americans interviewed claiming that family life was their most important value.

* Studies of the various life spheres Americans report as being sources of a "great deal of satisfaction" consistently show family life being the most important.

* Married individuals are healthier than their never-married, divorced, and widowed counterparts, according to the CDC report "Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2002." Marriage increases life-expectancy by as much as five years. James Goodwin and his associates (Journal of the American Medical Association 258:3125-3130) found in their analyses of 25,000 cases listed in the New Mexico Tumor Registry, which tracks all malignancies in the state, a higher percentage of married people survive cancer at nearly every age (see "Health and Selected Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Family: U.S., 1988-90" from the Centers for Disease Control (pdf format))

* In Lewis Terman's famous longitudinal study of gifted California children (n=1,521), begun in 1921 with follow-ups every 5 or 10 years, it was found that those whose parents divorced faced a 33 percent greater risk of an earlier death (average age at death=76 years) than those whose parents remained married until the children reached age 21 (average age at death=80). According to Dr. Howard Friedman, who did the analyses, there was no such mortality effect for children whose parents had died (cited in Daniel Goleman. 1995. "75 Years Later, Study Is Still Tracking Geniuses." New York Times [March 7]).

Source: http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/family.html


The great majority of Americans will become parents at some point in their lives. The statistics presented in this volume suggest that for the vast majority of parents, raising children is a central focus of their lives.

But how much do we know about the experience of parenting in America today, about the decisions and actions of fathers and mothers, even about the planning (or lack thereof) that precedes conception and childbearing? Where previous efforts have focused largely on the experiences of women and mothers, Charting Parenthood greatly expands our understanding in these areas by bringing men systematically into the picture and offering the best available data that include both men and women, fathers and mothers, for more than 40 indicators of parenting, fertility, and family formation. When men and women are both considered we find that, in some critical areas, their views and experiences diverge, while in other areas there is surprising agreement.

The data also provide important insights into the value men place on family life and childrearing, and on the multiple contributions that fathers can make to the lives of children. These insights suggest that many men have a deep commitment to raising children in the context of marriage, and that substantial percentages of fathers are deeply and regularly involved in play, discipline, and primary caregiving. For example:

* Most fathers who live with their children participate regularly in some kind of leisure or play activity with them. While mothers are more likely to do "quiet" activities (reading a book or doing a puzzle, for example), fathers are more likely to play an outdoor game or sports activity. Very high levels of both fathers and mothers report talking at least once a week with their children about their family.
* Substantial percentages of fathers who live with their children are engaged in monitoring their children's daily activities and in setting limits on these activities. For example, 61 percent set limits on what television programs their children are allowed to watch.
* Men are much more likely than women to believe that two parents are more effective at raising children than one parent alone.
* More than one in five young children in two-parent families have their father as the primary caregiver when the mother is at work, attending school, or looking for work.
* While 40 percent of children whose fathers live outside the home have no contact with them, the other 60 percent had contact an average of 69 days in the last year.

We highlight below some of the key findings in each of the three major sections of this volume: parenting, family formation, and fertility. Unless otherwise specified in this summary, "parents" refers to mothers or fathers that live with their children.

The Value of Raising Children. Americans place great personal value on raising children. Most adults, whether or not they are parents, believe that watching children grow up is life's greatest joy (78 percent of men and 83 percent of women in 1994).

Parental Warmth and Affection. Very high percentages of parents reported showing their children frequent warmth and affection, with 87 percent of mothers and 73 percent of fathers reporting that they hugged their children or showed them physical affection at least once a day. Similarly high percentages reported telling their children daily that they love them.

Time and Activities With Children. The vast majority of mothers and fathers report sharing responsibility with each other for playing with their children, with mothers less likely than fathers to report that playing was a shared responsibility. There are, however, domains in which mothers and fathers tend to lead. Mothers are more likely to engage children in activities like board games, puzzles, and looking at books; while fathers are more likely to play sports or do outdoor activities with children. Mothers are also more likely to be highly involved in their children's schools, perhaps reflecting different employment patterns and work hours between mothers and fathers. Adolescents also report that they are more likely to attend a religious observance with their mother than their father.

Setting Limits and Administering Discipline. Both mothers and fathers are substantially involved in setting limits for their children in various areas, with mothers somewhat more likely than fathers to report setting limits for their children on how much television they can watch (48 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers); on what programs they can watch (71 percent of mothers and 61 percent of fathers); and on who their children can spend time with (51 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers). The vast majority of mothers and fathers report sharing responsibility with each other for disciplining children, with mothers less likely than fathers to report that discipline was a shared responsibility.

Daily Time With Children. Children generally spend more time with their mothers than their fathers on any given day, possibly reflecting higher levels of employment among fathers than mothers. In two-parent families, this time difference is not terribly large: children ages 12 and under spend on average 2 hours and 21 minutes a day with their mothers, compared to 1 hour and 46 minutes with their fathers. In single-parent families, in contrast, children spend about one and a quarter hours a day with their mothers, compared to less than half an hour with their fathers, presumably reflecting the fact that more children in such families live with single mothers than fathers.

One Parent Versus Two. Men and women differ on whether one parent can bring up a child as well as two parents together. In 1994, 42 percent of women agreed that one parent can bring up a child just as effectively as two parents together, compared to just 26 percent of men. Interestingly, mothers and fathers were about as likely as nonparents to agree, though in neither case did a majority believe that one parent could bring up a child as effectively as two parents together. As public debate continues on issues related to single parenthood, it would be both interesting and helpful to obtain more recent data on this question.

Primary Care by Fathers. In 1996, almost one in five children ages birth to five (18 percent) had their fathers as their primary caregivers while their mothers were working, attending school, or looking for work. Such father care was more common for children in two-parent families than for those raised by a single mothers. The likelihood that a father provided primary care also varied by the father's educational level, with college-educated fathers much less likely to provide such care.

Physical Abuse of Children. A small proportion of parents self-report ever having physically abused their children, defined as having hit the child with a fist or kicked the child, thrown the child or knocked them down, choked or burned the child, or used a knife or gun against the child (6 percent of mothers and 3 percent of fathers).

Contact with Nonresident Parent. Most children with a parent who lives apart from them have at least some contact with that parent: 60 percent had contact with a nonresident father and 78 percent had contact with a nonresident mother in 1997. These children were in contact an average of 69 days with their fathers and 86 days with their mothers over the course of a year.
Family Formation

Marriage. The percentage of men and women who are married declined modestly between 1991 and 2001. This trend was also evident among parents: 92 percent of resident fathers were married in 1991, compared to 88 percent in 2001; 75 percent of resident mothers were married in 1991, compared to 72 percent in 2001.

Poor men and women were the least likely of any income group to be married, with the proportion married increasing as income increases. For example, 41 percent of poor men were married in 2001, compared to 66 percent of men with incomes at three or more times the poverty level. The marriage gap was even wider for women. Only about one in every three poor women is married, while about two of every three women with incomes at three or more times the poverty are married. This difference undoubtedly reflects both the more advantaged backgrounds of those who marry, and the advantages of having multiple earners in the family that marriage can bring. The percentage of poor men and women who are married has also been declining over the decade.

Divorce. The vast majority of men and women who were married in 1996 had never been divorced (81 percent of men and 82 percent of women). Between 1990 and 1996, the percentage of ever-married adults who divorced remained about the same among men and declined modestly for women. The likelihood of divorce among ever-married men differs little by poverty status. Among ever-married women, however, poor women are much more likely to have been divorced than more affluent women.

About half of all men and women agreed with the statement that "divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can't seem to work out their marriage problems." Only 20 percent of men and 12 percent of women thought that parents who don't get along should stay together when there are children in the family. Women's views on this question did not vary according to whether or not they were married or had children. In contrast, fathers were more likely than men who were childless to think parents should stay together for the children's sake.

Cohabitation. While marriage has declined slightly, cohabitation has increased. Eleven percent of unmarried men cohabited in 1991, rising to 13 percent in 2001. During the same period, the percentage of unmarried women who were cohabiting increased from 8 percent to 11 percent. Cohabitation is more common among poor men and women, declining markedly at higher income levels. Overall, 40 percent of all cohabiting relationships involve parents with children in the home.

Birth Rates. Overall, birth rates among men and women have declined modestly since 1980. However, this modest decline was not consistent across age groups. Between 1980 and 1999, birth rates among men and women at older ages (ages 30 and older) have increased, while birth rates among female teens have declined.

Age at First Birth. One in three females had their first birth in their teens, with females three times as likely to be teen parents than males (33 percent compared to 11 percent in 1992). In contrast, almost half of males reported that their first birth occurred after age 25, compared to one-quarter of females.

Premarital Births. The percentage of adults ages 18 to 59 who had a premarital birth prior to their first marriage is slightly higher among women than men: 19 percent compared to 15 percent in 1992 (the most recent year for which data are available for both men and women). This gender gap is much wider for younger adults. Women ages 18 through 24 are more than five times as likely as men in the same age group to have a premarital birth (21 percent compared to 4 percent). In general, poor adults were more likely than other adults to have had a premarital birth.

Age at First Sexual Intercourse. Among adults ages 18 to 59 in 1992, 55 percent of men and 43 percent of women reported having their first sexual intercourse before age 18. (These percentages may well have changed in ensuing years.) Age at first sex varies tremendously by education. Women college graduates are much less likely to report having had sex before age 18 than women without a high school education (21 percent compared to 67 percent). The gap for men is similar, though less dramatic - 39 percent and 64 percent.

Contraceptive Use. Younger adults are more likely than older adults to report using any method of contraception at first sex, indicating that contraceptive use at first sex has increased over time. For both males and females, contraceptive use at first sex increases with educational attainment.

This pathbreaking report brings together important information on fathers and mothers, including many new analyses produced specifically for the report. While available data leave important gaps in our understanding of these issues, federal statistical agencies are making important efforts to fill many of those gaps. Even with current limitations, however, the report extends our understanding of fatherhood in particular and parenting as a whole, and provides a hint of what might be accomplished in the future.

SCOURCE: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/charting02/executive.htm


Background measures, such as family structure, the marital status of mothers, the nativity of children and their parents, and air quality, tell us about the context in which our Nation's children live.

In 2002, 72.9 million children under age 18 lived in the United States and represented 25 percent of the population, down from a peak of 36 percent at the end of the baby boom in 1964. Children are projected to be 24 percent of the population in 2020.

Family structure is associated with the economic, parental, and community resources available to children, as well as their overall well-being. On average, living with two parents who are married to each other is associated with more favorable outcomes for children both through, and independent of, the higher income that characterizes these families.1 In 2003, 68 percent of children under age 18 lived with two married parents,2 down from 77 percent in 1980. However, the percentage has remained stable since 1995, ending a long-standing downward trend.

While the majority of children live with two married parents, 32 percent do not. In 2003, 23 percent of children lived with only their mothers, 5 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived with neither of their parents (Figure 1).

Family structure is also affected by a mother's marital status at the time of birth. In 2002, just over one-third (34 percent) of all births in the United States were to unmarried women, up from 32 percent in 1995. In part, this recent increase mirrors the fact that there are more unmarried women ages 15-44 than ever before.

In contrast, the birth rate among unmarried women reflects changes in childbearing within this group. In 2002, there were 44 births per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15 to 44 (Figure 2). While the overall birth rate among unmarried women has changed little since 1995, there are important differences by age. The birth rate for unmarried teenagers has declined by more than one-fifth since 1994. Meanwhile, birth rates for unmarried women ages 20 and older continue to increase, though much less rapidly than in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Children with foreign-born parents may need additional resources at school and at home as a result of language and cultural barriers confronting both the children themselves and their parents. The percentage of children with at least one foreign-born parent rose from 15 percent in 1994 to 20 percent in 2003.

Among all U.S. children, 15 percent have a parent who has not received a high school diploma. This percentage rises substantially among children who are foreign-born or have at least one foreign-born parent. In 2003, 43 percent of foreign-born children with at least one foreign-born parent and 34 percent of native children with at least one foreign-born parent had a parent with less than a high school diploma, compared with 10 percent of native children with native parents.

The environment in which children live, such as air quality, plays an important role in their health and development. In 2002, 34 percent of children under 18 lived in areas that did not meet one or more of the Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standards,3 up significantly from 19 percent in 2001. Over the past decade, this percentage has fluctuated between 16 percent and 34 percent.

Source: http://childstats.gov/ac2004/pop.asp


If marriage is to be a part of intrinsic faith, a lifelong commitment, what does that mean in practice?

1. We must accept living in conflict with our culture; accept living out of style. Commitment to marriage runs counter to the pursuit of self-satisfaction in many instances.

2. Our marriage must become a chief occupation, rather than just a status. We have to think about our marriage: What is happening between my spouse and I? Are we becoming emotionally distant, or is conflict rising to uncontrollable proportions? What should we do about it? Are we experiencing joy and pleasure together? Marriage requires periodic evaluation.

3. Along with evaluation comes adjustments. When it is clear that adjustment must be made, we have to be willing to do whatever is necessary. That means that sometimes we have to sacrifice something we feel is valuable: possibly a job, time doing something we like, or a relationship. Phrases like, "go for it", and "you have to be happy yourself" have come to represent what people believe in today. Sacrifice isn't a word that you hear a lot. But it is more relevant to marriage as the Bible defines it. I'm reminded of my father, who several years ago decided to end a satisfying and enjoyable career in business to become a full-time caretaker for my mother when she developed serious, chronic health problems. He has never regretted it.

4. Marriages have to be protected. We have to limit, avoid, or give up anything that would threaten the marriage. For some, it may mean giving up golf, going to the bar with single friends, or working with a co-worker who is getting too close. It is easy for other things and relationships to become more attractive than marriage at times. Marriage isn't just loving. It is parenting, paying bills, and caring for property as well, all of which can become mundane and draining.

5. Love for spouse must be developed. Love is an investment in a person. This is best demonstrated by Christ's relationship with people. We must be willing to invest time and effort in our spouse, providing what they need rather than what we want to give them. Love doesn't come so much from the attractiveness of an individual as it does from what you invest in them. Each person has their own unique needs, and we need to know what our spouse's needs are. When people "fall out of love", they have usually stopped investing in their mate.

6. Forgiveness is essential. We inevitably fail and do wrong things. Because of the intensity of the marriage relationship, one spouse can fail another in a big way, and many times over. How often and for how bad a failure should we forgive? How often and for how bad a failure has Christ forgiven us? Of all things necessary for lasting marriage, I believe this is the most critical. We must be willing to recover from hurt without resentment.


God intended marriage to show us our limitations.

Among other things, I think God intended marriage to show us our limitations, make us dependent on him, and to focus our minds on enduring truths rather than the whims of contemporary society. The possibility that maybe more than one out of two marriages still endures is a hopeful realization. Yet, even a 25% failure rate is cause for concern, especially when it appears that younger people must deal with less favorable odds. Perhaps the numbers serve to remind us that marriage is not easy. Marriage is like a long mountain bike race. I never feel like I have mastered a course when I'm done. I am acutely aware of my limitations, my need for sustenance, and I'm thankful that I have finished. Marriages endure or come to an end for reasons. We need to devote ourselves not just to our spouse, but to those things that make marriage last.

Greg Swenson, Ph.D.


Half of all marriages end in divorce. We know this to be true because people tell us. The media report it. Your pastor might preach it. Your friends talk about it. As one expert puts it, the statistic has become "part of American folklore."

But it's a lie. Repeat after me: Fifty percent of all marriages do not end in divorce.

If it's untrue, why won't that flawed statistic go away? Because, truth be told, no one can come up with the right statistic.

Recent research suggests that one marriage in four is closer to the true divorce rate. The 50-percent myth originated a couple of decades ago when someone looked at marriage and divorce numbers reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. The number of divorces in one year was precisely half the number of marriages. Voila! Half of all marriages end in divorce. Right? Nope.

With this kind of math, we also could reason that everyone born this year also will die this year. After all, the number of births each year roughly equals the number of deaths. The flawed reasoning is obvious: A lot of people are alive who neither were born nor died this year. You very likely are one of them. Similarly, the divorce statisticians forgot to figure in the marriages already in existence, of which there are, oh, tens of millions.

"The media, frankly, tend to use a lot of information without ever challenging what they use," says researcher George Barna, author of The Future of the American Family (Moody). So the media can shoulder much of the blame for propagating an inaccurate statistic. But why don't more people challenge it?

"Many people have a vested interest in accepting it as fact," Barna says. "Preachers use it to awaken people in their churches as to how bad things are. Those who have been through a divorce may use it to rationalize what they personally have experienced. And, from a spiritual perspective, the lie is always more intriguing than the truth."

But is it a lie? Or just one of many ways to interpret the figures?

"In one sense it is true," says Scott Richert, assistant editor of The Family in America, a journal published by The Rockford Institute. "If you look at all marriages that took place last year, about 45 to 50 percent will eventually end in divorce." He draws that conclusion based on the fact that the annual ratio of divorces-to-marriages has been about one in two for more than a generation.

"There's been a slight downward trend in the past several years," Richert says, "but basically that number has been consistent since no-fault divorce began in 1970."

But remember, we're talking about two groups of people. Richert's statement doesn't necessarily contradict Barna's, because Richert is talking about new marriages and Barna is talking about all marriages. Among the 55-and-older population, for example, marriages are quite stable. Most marriages that fail do so before the partners reach their mid-40s.

Confused? Don't feel bad.

"This is all complicated stuff," says William Mattox, senior researcher for the Family Research Council and a regular contributor to USA Today. "Some statistics are clean and neat and easier to understand, and some are not."

And according to Richert, "There's really no good, national figure. You'd have to go to every county in every state and check court records on marriages and divorces. No one has had the time or the funds to do a study like that."


Barna's research may be the best recent attempt at finding the true divorce rate in America. His group surveyed 3,142 randomly selected adults and found that 24 percent of adults who have been married also have been divorced. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 1 to 2 percent.

The wording here is important: "adults who have been married." Don't fall prey to well-meaning statisticians who go to the other extreme and say the divorce rate is less than 10 percent. Their answer is based on the Statistical Abstract of the United States, which shows the divorce rate as 4.7 people per thousand. That's per thousand adults in general'married, divorced, never married and widowed. So the figure doesn't tell you anything.

Closer to the mark, but still not all that helpful, is a National Center for Health Statistics figure showing 20.7 divorces per 1,000 married women. Again, that can be an apples-to-oranges comparison because the statistic includes all women who have ever been married'including those who are currently widowed or divorced.

"These figures aren't percentages," Richert cautions. "People get confused and say, 'Oh, this is a lot lower than 50 percent.'"

So we'll settle on roughly 25 percent. Still, that's nothing to brag about. And, as Richert indicated, the rate is rising as the older, more stable marriages die off. In the years ahead, a 50-percent divorce rate isn't unthinkable.

"If enough factors held constant for long enough, it probably would get close to 50 percent," Barna says, though he's not ready to concede that we're close to that yet. And neither is Mattox.

"Is there any truth to this statistic? Perhaps," he says. "But it's a very misleading statistic and very dangerous. It contributes to a mindset in our culture that divorce is inevitable. And it may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

The result, Mattox believes, is disrespect for the institution of marriage. Couples casually decide to try this marriage thing for a while, and if it doesn't work out, no problem. We only had a 50/50 chance going in, right?

"Someone who enters into the institution with that kind of regard for it is much more likely, when a crisis comes along, to think, 'time to bail,'" Mattox says.

Here's the really bad news: Barna finds that the divorce rate among born-again Christians (27 percent) and fundamentalist Christians (30 percent) actually is higher than the rate for non-Christians (23 percent). And yes, his survey asked if the people had been divorced before or after they became Christians. Eighty-seven percent said "after."

"A person's faith doesn't seem to have a lot of effect on whether they'll get divorced," Barna says. "Even among born-again Christians, most don't exhibit attitudes or behaviors any different than non-Christians."

Those numbers, once publicized, met with only mild surprise. "That's the milieu they live in," Barna says. "Either they've been through a divorce or they know someone who has. It's no longer the shocking reality that it was 30 or 40 years ago."

Again, these statistics should be explained. Barna's group asked belief-oriented questions to categorize people. Mattox says regular church attendance might be a better indicator of religion's effect on marital stability, since about 80 percent of Americans consider themselves Christians and about 40 percent say they're born again.

So, America, we have a problem. We also have some ammunition. Go out and challenge the one-in-two doomsayers with the truth. Tell your friends. Tell your pastor. But do it with compassion for the 24 percent, or whatever the actual number is, who have divorced. As Mattox points out, divorce still carries a certain amount of societal shame, especially for Christians.

And yet, telling people that three of every four marriages won't end in divorce sure lifts some of the gloom and doom.

"To me," Mattox says, "that puts things in a better perspective. It should offer people more hope."
Jim Killam is a free-lance writer and journalism instructor at Northern Illinois University.

Copyright © 1997 by Christianity Today International/Marriage Partnership Magazine.
Summer 1997, Vol. 14, No. 2, Page 46


September 8, 2004

(Ventura, CA) - Recent legislation, lawsuits and public demonstrations over the legality of gay marriage are just one battlefront regarding the institution of marriage. A new study released by The Barna Group, of Ventura, California, shows that the likelihood of married adults getting divorced is identical among born again Christians and those who are not born again. The study also cited attitudinal data showing that most Americans reject the notion that divorce is a sin.

Based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 3614 adults, the Barna survey focused on the three-quarters of adults 18 years of age or older who have been married at least once. The study identified those who had been divorced; the age at which they were divorced; how many divorces they have experienced; and the age at which the born again Christians had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Comparing the ages when divorced adults had accepted Christ and when they underwent their divorce, the researchers were able to determine both the impact of one's faith commitment on the resilience of the marriage and whether the divorce occurred before or after their born again commitment. The survey also examined whether people believe that divorce is a sin in situations where adultery is not involved.


Among all adults 18 and older, three out of four (73%) have been married and half (51%) are currently married. (That does not include the 3% who are presently separated from their marriage partner.) Among those who have been married, more than one out of every three (35%) have also been divorced. One out of every five adults (18%) who has ever been divorced has been divorced multiple times. That represents 7% of all Americans who have been married.

The average age at which people first dissolve their initial marriage tends to be in the early thirties. Among people in their mid-fifties or older, the median age of their first divorce was 34. Among Baby Boomers, millions more of whom are expected to get a divorce within the coming decade, the median age of the first divorce is currently 31. The Barna Group expects the average age of a first divorce among Boomers to be similar to that of the preceding generations by 2015, as the aging members of that generation sustain divorces later in life.

The research revealed that Boomers continue to push the limits regarding the prevalence of divorce. Whereas just one-third (33%) of the married adults from the preceding two generations had experienced a divorce, almost half of all married Boomers (46%) have already undergone a marital split. This means Boomers are virtually certain to become the first generation for which a majority experienced a divorce.

It appears that the generation following the Boomers will reach similar heights, since more than one-quarter of the married Baby Busters (27%) have already undergone a divorce, despite the fact that the youngest one-fifth of that generation has not even reached the average age of a first marriage.


Although many Christian churches attempt to dissuade congregants from getting a divorce, the research confirmed a finding identified by Barna a decade ago (and further confirmed through tracking studies conducted each year since): born again Christians have the same likelihood of divorce as do non-Christians.

Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.

George Barna noted that one reason why the divorce statistic among non-Born again adults is not higher is that a larger proportion of that group cohabits, effectively side-stepping marriage ' and divorce ' altogether. 'Among born again adults, 80% have been married, compared to just 69% among the non-born again segment. If the non-born again population were to marry at the same rate as the born again group, it is likely that their divorce statistic would be roughly 38% - marginally higher than that among the born again group, but still surprisingly similar in magnitude.'

Barna also noted that he analyzed the data according to the ages at which survey respondents were divorced and the age at which those who were Christian accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. 'The data suggest that relatively few divorced Christians experienced their divorce before accepting Christ as their savior,' he explained. 'If we eliminate those who became Christians after their divorce, the divorce figure among born again adults drops to 34% - statistically identical to the figure among non-Christians.' The researcher also indicated that a surprising number of Christians experienced divorces both before and after their conversion.

Multiple divorces are also unexpectedly common among born again Christians. Barna's figures show that nearly one-quarter of the married born agains (23%) get divorced two or more times.

The survey showed that divorce varied somewhat by a person's denominational affiliation. Catholics were substantially less likely than Protestants to get divorced (25% versus 39%, respectively). Among the largest Protestant groups, those most likely to get divorced were Pentecostals (44%) while Presbyterians had the fewest divorces (28%).


Although Bible scholars and teachers point out that Jesus taught that divorce was a sin unless adultery was involved, few Americans buy that notion. Only one out of every seven adults (15%) strongly agreed with the statement 'when a couple gets divorced without one of them having committed adultery, they are committing a sin.' A similar percentage (16%) moderately agreed with the statement. The vast majority ' 66% ' disagreed with the statement, most of them strongly dismissing the notion.

Faith perspectives made a difference in people's views on this matter ' but not as much as might have expected. Born again adults were twice as likely as non-born agains (24% vs. 10%) to strongly affirm this statement. However, a majority of the born again group (52%) disagreed that divorce without adultery is sin. Three-quarters of all non-born again adults (74%) disagreed with the statement.

A majority of both Protestants (58%) and Catholics (69%) disagreed that divorce without adultery involved in the commission of sin.

There was no difference in point-of-view on this matter across the generational groups. The largest difference among subgroups of the population was between blacks and whites. Just half of the black segment (49%) disagreed with the survey statement compared to seven out of ten white adults (70%). Hispanics were in-between those extremes (64% disagreed.)


Barna stated that there is no end in sight regarding divorce. 'You can understand why atheists and agnostics might have a high rate of divorce, since they are less likely to believe in concepts such as sin, absolute moral truth and judgment. Yet the survey found that the percentage of atheists and agnostics who have been married and divorced is 37% - very similar to the numbers for the born again population. Given the current growth in the number of atheists and agnostics, and that the younger two generations are predisposed to divorce, we do not anticipate a reversal of the present pattern within the next decade.'


The data described in this report are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted by The Barna Group with a random sample of 3614 adults, age 18 or older, between January and August 2004. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample of adults is ±1.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The maximum sampling error associated with the 1468 born again Christians interviewed is ±2.6 percentage points; with the 2147 non-born again adults, ±2.2 percentage points; with the 1246 Baby Busters, born between 1965 and 1983, ±2.9 percentage points; with the 1275 Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, ±2.9 percentage points; and with the 829 elder adults, born 1945 or earlier, ±3.5 percentage points.

People in the 48 continental states were eligible to be interviewed and the distribution of those individuals coincided with the geographic dispersion of the U.S. population. The data were subjected to minimal statistical weighting to calibrate the survey base to national demographic proportions. Households selected for inclusion in the telephone sample received multiple callbacks to increase the probability of including a reliable distribution of qualified individuals.

'Born again Christians' were defined in these surveys as people who said they have made 'a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today' and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as 'born again.' Being classified as 'born again' is not dependent upon church or denominational affiliation or involvement.

The Barna Group, Ltd., and its research division (The Barna Research Group), is an independent cultural analysis and strategic consulting firm located in Ventura, California. Since 1984, it has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-weekly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna web site (www.barna.org).

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the barna.org website is copyrighted by The Barna Group, Ltd., 1957 Eastman Ave. Ste B, Ventura, California 93003. No portion of this website (articles, graphs, charts, reviews, pictures, video clips, quotes, statistics, etc.) may be reproduced, retransmitted, disseminated, sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, circulated, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from The Barna Group, Ltd.

TOGETHER THROUGH THICK AND THIN: A multinational picture of long-term marriages

Sharlin, Kaslow and Hammerschmidt (2000) conducted a unique study of nonclinical couples from eight countries (United States, Canada, Israel, Chile, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and South Africa) who had been married (or living together in the case of Sweden) for at least 20 years. Apart from making cross-cultural comparisons, the researchers had a number of aims reflecting their family therapy orientation. These were: to identify which attributes of lasting marriages contribute to their capacity to weather the inevitable marital storms; to examine how various socio-demographic variables (such as ethnicity, religion, culture, and socio-economic status) influence couples; and to inform practitioners of ways in which marriages can be supported and improved.

The total of 610 couples married (or living together) for between 20 and 46 years was obtained largely via the authors' networking. Almost all couples were over the age of 45 years and were approaching either the empty-nest years or retirement. The authors acknowledge the limitations of their study due to their sample being largely middle to upper-middle class, although the findings suggest that long-term satisfying marriages are not dependent on wealth.

Unlike the other studies discussed in this paper, participants were not interviewed. Rather, they completed an extensive battery of questionnaires covering each person's family background, relationship history, parents and marital relationships, ratings of marital adjustment, problem solving, communication, reasons for staying married, and ingredients for marital satisfaction. Early in their analyses the researchers determined that there was no need to structure comparisons according to sample characteristics since the differences in the samples across countries were small and unimportant.

At least some aspects of creating and maintaining lasting and satisfactory marriages appear to be independent of culture or geography. Love, mutuality and sharing emerged as bases of the respondents' long-term marital satisfaction, and a number of qualities such as mutuality of trust, respect, support and give and take, sharing of values, beliefs (including religion), interests, philosophies, fun and humour, all arose consistently across cultures.

Motives for staying together at the time of their interview clearly revolved around commitment to the marital partnership and love for their spouse, whereas when times were tough staying together for the children and honouring the commitment to the lifelong partnership were prime motivators. In a further comparison of three of the motives (the reason for selecting these three in particular is not explained) it emerges that children play a role in warding off divorce when couples are unhappy, while lifestyle and love are less important. At the other end of the spectrum, extremely happy couples stay together out of their love for their partner; lifestyle and love are important for very happy couples; and children, lifestyle and love are salient motivators for happy couples.

An unassailable belief in and commitment to the institution of marriage and to their spouse was especially apparent with respect to why couples stayed together during difficult times, and in the majority of cases this commitment was underpinned by their religious affiliation and beliefs. In referring to very difficult times in their relationship, most couples, whether currently happy or unhappy, reported that honouring their commitment to a lifelong partnership and their sense of responsibility towards their children were the prime reasons for seeing the marriage or relationship through the stressful periods. Satisfied couples also cited the motivating power of their love for their spouse or partner, but for dissatisfied couples forces external to the couple such as children and religious beliefs exerted greater influence on their decision to remain in the marriage.

That the rankings of ingredients for relationship satisfaction and the motives for staying together during difficult times were very similar across nations contributes further to the notion of the universal nature of the attributes of lasting marriages. In addition, satisfaction with the marriage was predicted in all countries only by various couple relationship quality variables (such as closeness, communication, affection expression etc), whereas overall life satisfaction was predicted by dimensions such as employment, length of marriage, health, and economic status, as well as closeness.

Even though respondents' marriages had been maintained for very long periods, couples were not unaware of some deficiencies in their relationship. Couples' rankings of the desired ingredients of their relationship were quite different from those they regarded as currently extant in their relationship. Components of relationship dynamics reflecting the original declaration of love, and the behaviours that contribute to intimacy were endorsed as ideal relationship characteristics that were to some extent deficient in their relationship: patience and understanding, mutual sexual fulfilment, and sensitivity and consideration for spouse's needs.

Sharlin, S. A., Kaslow, F. W., and Hammerschmidt, H. (2000). Together Through Thick and Thin: A Multinational Picture of Long-Term Marriages. New York: Haworth Clinical Practice Press.

Taken from Robyn Parker http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/parker2.html


In a larger study than the others described above, Alford-Cooper (1998) collected data on 576 couples whose marriages were intact after 50 years or more. Concentrating on a single geographic region, Long Island, New York, Alford- Cooper gathered information spanning key stages in the couples' lives, from their early courtship through marriage, parenting and growing old. From questionnaires, information pertaining to a range of marital dimensions was gathered, including the factors they thought contributed to their marital longevity, and a subset of 60 couples were also interviewed extensively.

During interviews, Alford-Cooper gathered the couples' life stories - how they met and married, how they dealt with difficulties and obstacles, how their relationships had survived. She also asked the interviewees their views on the younger generation and the advice they would give to young marrying couples.

Over half (56 per cent) of the spouses described themselves as very happily married and a further 37 per cent reported being happily married. Almost all (99 per cent) reported that when they married they thought it would last, but they had no other specific expectations of marriage. Love had kept many couples together, but unhappy couples had remained bonded through their children. Significantly, although 21 per cent of all spouses had at some time contemplated the failure of the marriage, divorce simply 'wasn't an option' (p. 134), either because of their deeply held beliefs that divorce was unacceptable, or because they had no resources or support networks on which to rely. For many spouses, little or no support for a decision to divorce was likely to be found among their own family. Some reported incidents where they had returned to their parents' home only to be immediately sent back to their spouse.

When the 576 couples were asked which of eight relationship characteristics had helped them stay together, three groups of characteristics emerged. The first comprised the three most frequently endorsed characteristics: trust (82 per cent), loving relationship (81 per cent), and willingness to compromise (80 per cent). The second group comprised mutual respect (72 per cent), need for each other (70 per cent), and compatibility (66 per cent). The third group comprised children (57 per cent), and good communication (53 per cent). When asked to add any other characteristics, spouses most often added sense of humour. They also tended to have similar attitudes towards marriage, with high levels of agreement about the sanctity of marriage and the need for fidelity and commitment.

While financial pressures prevented some women and men from leaving the marriage, for many their interdependence and sense of shared history deflected them from taking the necessary steps towards divorce. One of the components of the bond that helped to keep some couples together was their willingness to give more than they received. How much each spouse was giving or taking at any point in time was seen to be flexible and couples acknowledged that rarely was the balance equal. But where this willingness was missing, or too one-sided, there was little to bind the couple beyond obligation and lack of viable alternatives. Such relationships also tended not to be characterised by love and respect, compromise or good communication, attributes that, when combined with an acceptance of the nature of the relationship, keep the couple from proceeding towards divorce.

When asked how they would advise young couples on how to make their marriage a long and happy one, respondents highlighted five key approaches.

There must be a similarity of values, backgrounds and interests as a way to prevent or ameliorate discord, especially in relation to children and parenting.

A successful marriage will be characterised by love, regard and mutual respect that go beyond sexual desire and contribute to an intimacy that can only be developed over time.

Don't look for, or try to create, the perfect spouse. Take the time to get to really know your spouse's character before marrying them - and then make a serious commitment to the development of a long-term marriage.

Communicate openly and honestly but tactfully, even and especially during those times when communicating is most difficult.

Show a willingness to compromise, to negotiate and to share responsibilities, realising that you won't always be giving and taking in equal measures but that over time it will balance out.

Alford-Cooper, F. (1998). For Keeps: Marriages That Last a Lifetime. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Taken from Robyn Parker http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/parker2.html


'There is a growing together . . . like a tree around a boulder underneath the ground. The root eventually goes around it.' (57 year old man, married 25 years; pxii)
Mackey and O'Brien (1995) interviewed 60 couples who married during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. They selected a sample of couples whose youngest child had completed high school that would provide a diverse sample representing major American religious, ethnic, racial and occupational groups. The interviews explored how their marriages had developed and progressed across the years, in particular the three broad phases of the early years, the childrearing years, and 'empty-nest' years.

In broad terms spouses' satisfaction with their marriage was not related to their sex or their age, to how many years they had been married, or how many children they had. Social demographic characteristics had minor effects. Husbands tended to be more positive about the relationship than wives, although wives reported both positives and negatives. Satisfaction was higher for those with less education and for those in the higher and lower versus the middle income brackets.

Mackey and O'Brien identified five factors that appeared to be important to marital longevity.

Containment of conflict Couples reported that most of their conflict occurred during the childrearing years. Failure to adequately resolve major difficulties arising during the parenting years undermined satisfaction, particularly if the cycle of negative interaction and defensiveness was allowed to go unchecked as they approached the third (retirement/empty nest) phase of the marriage. For most couples the husbands and wives differed in the way they dealt with conflict, men typically being more avoidant than women, although couples reported that changes towards more open and direct ways of dealing with conflict helped to improve satisfaction - as long as there was seen to be movement on the part of both husbands and wives.

Mutuality of decision-making The degree of mutual decision-making increased over the life of the marriage, especially as the children went through adolescence. During the early years of the marriage the role of decision-maker was often split according to gender roles: men made most of the major decisions except where the home or children were concerned, however there was a general trend towards joint decision-making as couples moved towards the third phase of the marriage, when children began to leave the home. In particular, decision-making with respect to friends, major financial outlays and leisure activities increasingly involved exchange and reciprocity. Couples who reported higher levels of joint decision-making also reported significantly higher levels of marital satisfaction.

Quality of communication The period of their children's adolescence was highlighted as the time when couple communication was fraught with challenges. Often though, it led to better communication patterns. Couples reported that over time they became more open and expressive with each other, characteristics associated with higher levels of satisfaction. Expressive communication, or at least some combination of the expressive and instrumental ('showing' rather than 'telling') modes, was associated with greater satisfaction in the third phase of marriage. Couples who maintained primarily instrumental patterns of relating into their later years tended to be less satisfied with their relationship.

Relational values of trust, respect, understanding and equity Respondents indicated that in the early years of the marriage, the respect, trust and understanding they received from their spouses was vital to marital satisfaction. In the empty-nest years, however, the reciprocity of these values was the key to satisfaction. As time-dependent values, mutual trust and understanding were significantly related to satisfaction only in the post- Research Paper No. 28, July 2002 Australian Institute of Family Studies 11 parenting years, having been built up gradually in the early years. Couples recognised that at times their marriage was unfair to one spouse (usually the wife during the child-rearing years), but as long as the spouses felt some sense of equity, erosion of marital satisfaction was prevented.

Sexual and psychological intimacy Mackey and O'Brien viewed intimacy as a composite of mutual understanding, acceptance, trust, and respect based on being open and honest about one's feelings and reflected both physically and psychologically. Of the two, the psychological intimacy that grew during the post-parenting years contributed more to the overall levels of satisfaction in the later years than physical intimacy. Satisfactory marriages were usually described as psychologically intimate, but for dissatisfied spouses that intimacy was absent. Intimacy grew over time, often becoming deeper as couples overcame difficulties and worked through the low points in their marriage. Life events provided couples with opportunities for reinforcement of existing feelings or propelled them towards developing stronger feelings of connectedness.

The themes of adaptability, resilience and commitment recurred throughout the interviews. Satisfied couples adapted to change and drew on the marriage as well as the resources and support around them to help them cope. Commitment was seen as the glue that held them together . . . the 'assuring sense of being together, no matter what' (Mackey and O'Brien 1995: 144). While some of their values and attitudes underwent significant changes over the years, their views of marriage as a permanent commitment of love and fidelity held fast.

Mackey, R. A., and O'Brien, B. A. (1995). Lasting Marriages: Men and Women Growing Together. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Taken from Robyn Parker http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/parker2.html

'TIL DEATH DO US PART': How couples stay together

Using criteria and methods similar to Klagsbrun, but accessing a much larger sample, Lauer and Lauer (1986) studied 351 couples who had been married at least 15 years. They obtained their data via questionnaires, interviews and personal accounts of the ups and downs couples had experienced. Both spouses were happy in 300 marriages, 32 couples were mixed (one happy, one not), and both spouses were unhappy in 19 marriages. As is often the case in these kinds of studies, the couples tended to be in the middle to upper socio-economic strata.

Couples identified several characteristics that, as well as being important to the marriage overall, were equally valued by husbands and wives. The following were reported by the spouses independently as the 'top seven' reasons for their marital success:

spouse as best friend;
liking spouse as a person;
marriage as a long term commitment;
marriage as a sacred institution;
agreement on aims and goals;
spouses becoming more interesting to each other;
wanting the relationship to succeed.

The outstanding feature of this list is that it was identical for both husbands and wives. Such a high degree of consensus attests to the critical role those attributes play in creating a marriage that will last. Clearly a deep and abiding friendship is a key characteristic of these long-term marriages.

The second key feature of long-term marriages related to commitment. Both happily and unhappily married spouses shared a strong belief in marriage as an institution and as a long-term commitment. The difference between them was that the happier couples were committed both to the marriage and their spouse; for these couples, their connectedness and intimacy were a product or consequence of being married. Couples who were in mixed or unhappy marriages were committed to the marriage for its own sake, but not to their spouse; for these couples, the marriage was endured out of their sense of duty - to their children and family, or their faith, their community, or to society. Lauer and Lauer (1986: 181) quote one husband who summed it up this way:

'Commitment means a willingness to be unhappy for a while . . . You're not going to be happy with each other all the time. That's when commitment is really important.'
Happily married couples also felt that sharing important fundamental aims, goals and values helped them to create and maintain their relationship, but where there were differences of opinion the lack of consensus was not interpreted as damaging to the relationship. There was a recognition that making efforts to achieve and maintain an acceptable balance of separateness and togetherness was necessary for long-term satisfaction. Respondents drew attention also to other qualities in their spouse and their marital relationship such as caring, giving, integrity and humour, having similar opinions and philosophies, the expression of affection and their sex life, and taking pride in their spouse's achievements.

In contrast with what therapists believed at the time, couples thought that holding some things back during arguments was much wiser than 'letting it all hang out'. They did not expect that the relational dynamics in the marital relationship would always be evenly balanced, nor did they expect perpetual bliss. There was a recognition that the couple was more important than individual interests and pursuits, not in the sense of the romantic notion that 'two become one' but that the sense of being 'a couple' enriches them as individuals.

Lauer, J. C., and Lauer, R. H. (1986). 'Til Death Do Us Part. New York: Haworth Press.

Taken from Robyn Parker http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/parker2.html


'How have you managed to stay married for so long [almost 30 years]? Maybe if I knew I wouldn't be so leery of marriage myself.' (Single woman, late 20s.)
'Single people think all long-married people are cowards.' (Divorced man, mid-30s.)
Klagsbrun's (1985) study of long-married couples had its origins in these two comments. One of the first researchers to 'go to the source', she recruited and interviewed 87 middle class married couples. At the time they were interviewed in the early 1980s, marriages of 15 years or more were considered to be especially likely to last given they had 'survived' the intense social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.

Klagsbrun reports eight characteristics of long-married couples that emerged from the couples' descriptions of their marriages.

Ability to change and adapt to change In the face of extraordinary social change these long-married couples retained a positive attitude. Rather than see such changes as destructive they were accommodated, viewed as something to be dealt with as a couple. Increasing access to education for women and their greater participation in the labour force were two changes that challenged established perceptions of the value both of established institutions such as marriage and of the roles men and women were expected to adopt.

Ability to live with the unchangeable The happy long-married couples appeared to have been very pragmatic. They seemed not to expect a perfect marriage in which every disagreement had to be completely resolved - they could let some things be. Their attitude seemed to be one of 'the glass being half full' - they looked to the positives in the marriage and concentrated on their strengths, channelling energy they might have put into settling disputes into finding ways to accommodate the differences and enjoying the relationship.

Assumption of permanence Having a lasting marriage was important to the couple. Whatever its faults, they were committed to the marriage and were prepared to compromise for the sake of the relationship - not for their family or for their Church. These couples accepted that at various times their commitment to the marriage and the balance of give and take in their relationship would waver, but they believed that over time that balance would even out. They shared a firm belief in the value of marriage as an institution that remained solid in the face of whatever difficulties and upheaval they had encountered. In this sense their marriage was a refuge.

Trust The core of these marriages was trust. Whatever trials and tribulations they experienced their trust in each other remained strong and provided them with a sense of safety and security - a marker of happy, lasting marriages. It was the basis for the development of both psychological and sexual intimacy and the anchor of their fidelity.

Balance of dependencies (power) Even in the more traditional marriages the spouses acknowledged their emotional dependence on each other. Furthermore, they learned that the balance of dependence was not static, that Australian Institute of Family Studies Research Paper No. 28, July 2002 8 at various times one would be more dependent than the other or one would need more nurturing than the other. Their need for each other and dependence on their spouse was not viewed as a weakness of the marriage but a strength - because they saw themselves as mutually dependent. Despite the deep attachment evident between spouses, Klagsbrun reported that spouses didn't feel that their individual identities had been damaged or subsumed by their spouses; each appeared capable of surviving outside of the couple - but they preferred not to.

Enjoyment of each other In the happier long-term marriages the couples enjoyed each other's company, would talk, argue and listen. They tended to have similar values. The emotional and physical connection between spouses was often apparent to Klagsbrun as she interviewed them. Couples would not agree on everything nor did they necessarily share the same interests, but they worked out compromises to accommodate their differences, and pursuing individual activities helped some couples to remain interesting to each other. The key was in achieving a balance between time together and time apart. Finding such a balance contributed to the sense of intimacy and satisfaction with the marriage.

Cherished, shared history Long-married couples valued their shared experiences. Their history gave them a perspective on the present, allowing them to view events that had the potential to damage the marriage in light of both what they had already overcome and their accumulated positive experiences. This was not simply nostalgia. Their joint history was a significant part of their individual histories, 'an entity' that reminded them of their capacity to survive in the past and helped to prevent hasty decisionmaking in the face of difficulties in the present.

Luck Even with all these characteristics, couples were aware that holding their marriage together had also involved a little luck. Luck can play a role in protecting a marriage from the unpredictable, in that the couple relationship is not tested as often or as severely as it might have been, but the couples Klagsbrun interviewed had experienced their share of problems, and sometimes more. It may have been luck that brought spouses together in the first place, or that provided the opportunity to overcome difficult backgrounds or circumstances. However, Klagsbrun's impression of those who thought of themselves as lucky was that their marital success was as much due to their positive outlook and making the best of things as it was to sheer chance.

The happier couples Klagsbrun interviewed had remained together both 'because of' the emotional benefits they gained through their marriage, and 'in spite of' the stresses and strains they may have experienced (p. 279). There is also an air of intentionality underlying the eight qualities of long-married couples described above, a sense that those couples whose marriages had lasted realised that responsibility for the outcome of the marriage was at least to some degree in their own hands. Their marriages survive and flourish because for them remaining in the marriage was the happiest choice they could make (p xvi).

Klagsbrun, F. (1985). Married People: Staying Together in the Age of Divorce. Toronto: Bantam Books.

Taken from Robyn Parker http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/parker2.html


Reported by the Maxim Institute in New Zealand: Real Issues 119: 15 July 2004

This week CYF announced that there were 43, 414 reported cases of child abuse in New Zealand last year; up 31% on the year before that. This statistic is too personal to ignore, as are the faces of the children on our TV screens who have been abused or murdered. According to a September 2003 UNICEF report, New Zealand's rate of child deaths from maltreatment is now 1.2 per 100 000, more than 4 times the first world average.

Why are so many New Zealand children at risk of abuse, missing out on the love and protection they deserve? Doubtless the reasons are varied and complicated, but is it any coincidence that in the decades during which legislation has increasingly made light of marriage, we have also seen a sharp decline in the welfare of our children?

Consider this:

Children who live with their mother and her co-habiting boyfriend are 33 times more likely to suffer abuse than those whose parents are married and living together. They are 73 times more likely to die from abuse. [i]
In the United Kingdom, children living in solo-mother homes are 14 times more likely to be abused than children living with married biological parents. Children living with at least one step-parent are six times more likely to be abused. [ii]
We could blame CYF for failing to do their job. But who is firstly responsible for children: their parents or a government agency? To be fair to CYF, the best state-provided resources cannot substitute for what children need: committed and loving parents. While good government responds to the needs of children, it is the relational environments in which they live that matter most. In light of these figures, we would be wise to consider as a society, whether our deliberate devaluing of marriage is contributing to this alarming increase in family dysfunction and child abuse.

[i] R. Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children, 1994.
[ii] P. F. Fagan and D. B. Hanks, "The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage, Family and the American Community", Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1115, May 15, 1997.


The overwhelming majority of adults around the world agree that the natural family, based on the lawful marriage of a man and a woman, is the fundamental unit of society. People of all cultures affirm that a lasting marriage between a husband and wife and the raising of children are keys to family happiness.

These are among the findings of an international survey carried out in 1999 on behalf of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society and the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University.

Nearly 3000 interviews were conducted across 19 different countries in five major regions of the world. While many hypotheses hold that the importance of family and children differs depending on culture, religion and socio-economic factors, the study shows there is a strong cross-cultural agreement on the importance of the natural family.
Nearly eight in ten respondents worldwide agreed that 'A family created through lawful marriage is the fundamental unit of society'. Almost six in ten strongly agreed. Only 15% disagreed.

Opinion regarding the statement was so universal that majorities in all five regions agreed. Europe was the only region where support was not over 70%. There, 54% agreed and 30% disagreed.

Not only did most people acknowledge that the family is central to civilisation, they prefer it that way. When presented with the hypothetical possibility of creating their own society and asked to identify which institution would be the central component of that society, nearly two out of three said they would centre their society around the family. Others would centre their society around the government, the individual, the church or the business community.

The poll strongly reaffirmed that the 'natural family' is based on a man and woman bound in a lifelong covenant of marriage. Nearly two out of three agreed strongly with this, while 19% agreed somewhat. When asked to name the most important factor in creating a good quality of family life, the majority placed 'a lasting marriage between a husband and wife' at the top of the list.

When it came to other important factors, there were notable differences between the regions of the world. Respondents in the Middle East/Africa cited religious faith; for Asians it was financial security; Europeans were split between financial security and interaction with extended family; Latin Americans also mentioned interaction with extended family; whole respondents in the USA were fairly evenly split between interaction with extended family and religious faith.

Adults across the globe, regardless of culture, agreed that the most important factor in creating a strong marriage was good communication. After that were lifelong commitment to one's spouse, shared interests and goals, ability to resolve conflict, and close friendship. Sexual satisfaction gathered only 1% support.

While recognising that reality falls short of the ideal for many people, the study affirmed that children are best nurtured within the traditional family unit. Support for this was strongest in Asia (92%), and weakest in Europe (66%).

Children were definitely not considered a liability to marriage. In fact, 69% of adults worldwide said that children are very important to having a strong marriage, and 77% considered that having and raising children is very important to the quality of family life. Despite recent attention to issues of overpopulation and the stress said to be placed on world resources, half of those surveyed believed that families with multiple children help improve society. Only a third felt that families with multiple children added to the problems of society.

To get another perspective on the priority that people around the world place on children and the family, the survey asked non-US residents to name one life goal they would be most willing to give up if they had to. The results clearly showed that people of these cultures value marriage and family above material possessions. Nearly half (45%) would sooner give up a nice home and 17% would sacrifice financial security before they would give up a good marriage, or a strong family with happy children.

However, despite the strong belief in the value of marriage and family life, there was also a high degree of concern that the institution of marriage is under attack. In three out of the five regions, close on half the respondents felt that the quality of family life would be weaker in 30 years from now.

Regional differences were quite pronounced on this question. The most pessimistic region is the United States, where those who anticipated a declining quality of family life outnumbered optimists by more than two to one. Latin America and the Middle East/Africa were more evenly divided. However, by contrast, Asia was the most optimistic region, with 53% believing the quality of life will be stronger in 30 years. People in Europe were fairly evenly split on whether it would be stronger, weaker, or about the same.


While it may be inferred that New Zealanders hold similar views on the value of marriage and family, what they do in practice tells a different story.

Since the 1970s, there has been a steady decline in the number of marriages. The postwar peak occurred in 1971, when there were 27,199 marriages. By contrast, in the year 2000 there were only 20,655, and the marriage rate has fallen to 45.5 per 1,000 eligible people over the age of 16.

Many factors have contributed to this large fall, including substantial growth in informal or de facto unions, the trend towards delaying marriage, and increasing numbers of New Zealanders choosing to remain single.

Conversely, divorces have trebled since 1971. There was a particularly severe jump in 1981, when 'easy' divorce came in and separation became the only grounds for divorce. The following year, 1982, was the peak year for divorce in New Zealand, with a temporary high of 12,295 recorded.

The next peak year for divorce was 1998, with just over 10,000 divorces registered, but since then the rate has actually declined slightly. It is the first time in almost living memory that the rate has dropped two years in a row, but whether this is the start of a long-term trend remains to be seen.

The Statistics Department says the annual divorce statistics tend to exaggerate the incidence of marriage breakup. 'Analysis of divorce statistics by year of marriage shows that 70% of couples who married in 1975 were still together in 2000,' the Department says. 'For about two-thirds of couples, death, not divorce, will end their marriage.'
Divorces are most common among couples who have been married between five and nine years. They account for one-quarter of all divorces. And almost two out of every five marriages that dissolved in 2000 had lasted for less than 10 years.

Like the rise in age of people marrying for the first time, the age of divorce is also rising. The average age for first-time grooms is now 29 years, and for brides 27 years, about six years older than their 1971 counterparts. The median age for men divorcing has gone up to 41 years, compared with 39 years for women.

However, despite the casualness with which many people seemingly fall into ' and out of ' relationships, there is still strong support for marriage. The latest figures from the 2001 Census show that more people are married than are in any other kind of relationship.
According to the Census, 1,338,573 people are legally married, compared with 1,177,476 who are either in de facto relationships, separated, divorced or who have chosen to remain single.

De facto unions appear to be most common among younger New Zealanders. At the 1996 Census, among women aged 15-19 who had partners, de factos outnumbered marrieds nine to one. Among women aged 20-24 years, 62 of those in partnerships were in a de facto union. For men the corresponding figure was 73 per cent. As people get older, the percentage of de facto relationships tails off markedly.

The fact that de facto unions are most prevalent among women who are in their peak child-bearing years probably has a lot to do with the increasing rate of children born outside marriage.

Forty years ago, only 8 children in every 100 were born outside wedlock. In 2000, the rate reached 43 out of every 100, and if it maintains that momentum, inside 10 years half of all children will be born outside marriage.

But the value of children has obviously plummeted in this country. In 1979, 3,652 abortions were performed. Only 21 years later that figure had skyrocketed to 16,103 ' well over a four-fold increase. Just over one in five pregnancies were aborted in 2000.
The Statistics Department says on the basis of that year's figures, 1,000 New Zealand women could expect to have 589 abortions during their reproductive life ' that is about 6 abortions for every 10 women. Only Australia and the USA have a higher rate in the world.


The authors of the worldwide study say:

'There is no doubt that current trends, if left unchecked, threaten the existence of the family. Yet, at the same time, this study offers reasons for hope. Most people throughout the world place a very high level of importance on marriage, children and the family. It reaffirms that the natural family is indeed the foundation of civilised society.

'It follows that the very survival of society depends on maintaining a social and political environment which protects and encourages lasting marriages between men and women, fosters child-rearing within the natural family, and gives parents and families the tools they need to strengthen the family unit now and in the future.'


The low moral and ethical standards of the Church, as defined by the only measurable benchmark, the divorce rate, exceeds that of much of the unbelieving pagan world. According to one of the latest divorce statistical studies, there is a significantly higher divorce rate amongst those identifying themselves as "born again" Christians than society as a whole, even amongst those claiming to be atheists and agnostics. Another survey has the divorce rate in the Church identical to that of the world. Evangelical Churches most often take the lead in the divorce increase.

Such statistics come as no surprise to those who have been scientifically tracking the trends. For a number of years the levels of 'Christian' ethical behavior in areas involving honesty, integrity and sanctity of life have matched or led the freefall of those practiced in society as a whole. Notwithstanding expectations to the contrary, there is little real difference in the lifestyle choices that these 'Christians' make on a daily basis, than those who openly follow their own fallen natures without restraint.
If these polling measurements reflect anything even close to reality, it goes without saying that both the majority of those claiming new life in Christ, and those that do not, share common moral principles and levels of Godliness, contrary to God's Word.


Utilitarians argue that the high divorce rate and soaring rate of out of wedlock births have a detrimental effect on society. Studies have shown that illegitimate children tend to have lower verbal cognitive development, lower educational aspirations, and a greater likelihood of becoming teenage parents. A 1988 study at the University of Illinois on adults born outside of marriage found that the longer a child spends in a single-parent family, the less education the child attains. Other studies have shown that fifty percent of girls who have a baby out of wedlock before age 18 will become long term welfare recipients. Eighty percent of them will go on welfare at some time in their life.

In terms of crime, a state by state analysis shows that in general, a ten percent increase in the number of children living in single parent homes (including divorces) accompanies a seventeen percent increase in juvenile crime. And finally, married people have consistently lower death rates from disease, suicide, and accident mortality than divorced people. Overall, the premature death rate is four times higher among divorced white men than among their counterparts. A study at the University of Oregon found the impact of divorce on a woman's health and well-being is more serious than the impact of being fired from a job. Another study showed that divorced or separated people are three times more likely to commit suicide than married people.

Based on these statistics, it would seem the new sexual ethic of personal freedom and self-expression actually has incurred a great cost on our society. We have ended up with more poorly educated youth, higher juvenile crime rates, increases in the welfare rolls, and less physically and mentally healthy people. And so, strengthening the institution of marriage is not just a matter of religious piety, but a necessity for the health of society.


Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States. Series Report 23, Number 22. 103pp.

By age 30, three-quarters of women in the U.S. have been married and about half have cohabited outside of marriage, according to a comprehensive new report on cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and remarriage released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, focuses not only on individual factors but also community conditions associated with long-term marriages as well as divorce and separation. Based on interviews with nearly 11,000 women 15-44 years of age, the study also examines conditions associated with cohabitation, including the impact that pre-marital cohabitation has on marriage and marital stability.

"We've expanded our analysis beyond the basic 'bookends' of marriage and divorce to look more closely at how the issue of cohabitation impacts the life of a relationship," said Dr. Ed Sondik, Director of CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "At the same time, we've also attempted to look beyond the influence of individual characteristics and are looking more at the characteristics of the community at large to get a comprehensive picture of what factors impact marriage and divorce rates in this country."

Among the findings in the report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less stable than marriages. The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent. After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent, compared with 62 percent for cohabitations.

The study suggests that both cohabitations and marriages tend to last longer under certain conditions, such as: a woman's age at the time cohabitation or marriage began; whether she was raised throughout childhood in an intact 2-parent family; whether religion plays an important role in her life; and whether she had a higher family income or lived in a community with high median family income, low male unemployment, and low poverty.

The report also shows that marriages that end do not always end in divorce; many end in separation and do not go through the divorce process. Separated white women are much more likely (91 percent) to divorce after 3 years, compared with separated Hispanic women (77 percent) and separated black women (67 percent).

Meanwhile, the probability of remarriage among divorced women was 54 percent in 5 years--58 percent for white women, 44 percent for Hispanic women, and 32 percent for black women. However, there was also a strong probability that 2nd marriages will end in separation or divorce (23 percent after 5 years and 39 percent after 10 years).

The likelihood that divorced women will remarry has been declining since the 1950's, when women who divorced had a 65 percent chance of remarrying. Data for 1995 show that women who divorced in the 1980's only had a 50 percent chance of remarrying.


By Rich Buhler

It's been called America's most-often-cited statistic. It's so widely held to be true that it is repeated without question by authors, speakers, broadcasters, politicians, counselors and ministers.

Here are some examples from just a few Web sites on the Internet:
 "Fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce."
' An infidelity support group
 "Fifty percent of all marriages now end in divorce."
' Promotion for a book on divorce
 "Fifty percent of all marriages in America end in divorce."
' From the treasurer's office of a Midwestern state
 "Over 50 percent of marriages end in divorce."
' From a men's counseling center in California

Divorce is too common in America and that should not be taken lightly, but those who are committed to a lifetime of marriage don't need the discouragement accompanying the notion that half the marriages are going to self-destruct anyway.

I was once told by a young bride-to-be that she and her fiance had decided not to say "Till death do us part" in their wedding vows because the odds of it really happening were only 50-50.

Let me say it straightforwardly: Fifty percent of American marriages are not ending in divorce. It's fiction. A myth. A tragically discouraging urban legend.

If there's no credible evidence that half of American marriages will end up in divorce court, where did that belief originate?

Demographers say there was increased focus on divorce rates during the 1970s when the number of divorces rose, partly as a result of no-fault divorce. Divorces peaked in 1979 and articles started appearing that claimed 50 percent of American marriages were ending in divorce.

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics told me that the rumor appears to have originated from a misreading of the facts. It was true, he said, if you looked at all the marriages and divorces within a single year, you'd find that there were twice as many marriages as divorces. In 1981, for example, there were 2.4 million marriages and 1.2 million divorces. At first glance, that would seem like a 50-percent divorce rate.

Virtually none of those divorces was among the people who had married during that year, however, and the statistic failed to take into account the 54 million marriages that already existed, the majority of which would not see divorce.

Another source for the 50-percent figure could be those who were trying to predict the future of divorce. Based on known divorce records, they projected that 50 percent of newly married young people would divorce. University of Chicago sociologist and researcher Linda Waite told USA Today that the 50-percent divorce stats were based more on assumptions than facts.

So what is the divorce picture in America? Surprisingly, it's not easy to get precise figures because some states don't report divorces to the National Center for Health Statistics, including one of the largest: California.

Some researchers have relied on surveys rather than government statistics. In his book Inside America in 1984, pollster Louis Harris said that only about 11 or 12 percent of people who had ever been married had ever been divorced. Researcher George Barna's most recent survey of Americans in 2001 estimates that 34 percent of those who have ever been married have ever been divorced. One of the latest reports about divorce was released this year by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). It is based on a 1995 federal study of nearly 11,000 women ages 15-44. It predicted that one-third of new marriages among younger people will end in divorce within 10 years and 43 percent within 15 years. That is not a death sentence, however; it's a forecast. Martha Farnsworth Riche, former head of the Census Bureau, told USA Today, "This is what is going to happen unless we want to change it."

Most important, the statistics and predictions about Americans in general don't tell the whole story about the future. There are other factors that affect a person's chances for a long marriage. The NCHS study of women, for example, shows that age makes a difference. Women marrying before age 20 face a higher risk for divorce. Marriages that have already lasted for a number of years are less likely to end in divorce. If your parents did not divorce, your chances are better than if you came from a broken home. Couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce.

The bottom line is that marriage is still what it's always been: a commitment between two people who choose to remain faithful to each other. And they don't need to feel doomed because of scary statistics ' least of all ones that are urban myths.


--1. Teach them using God's word. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

--2. Tell them what's right and wrong. (1 Kings 1:6)

--3. See them as gifts from God. (Psalms 127:3)

--4. Guide them in Godly ways. (Proverbs 22:6)

--5. Discipline them. (Proverbs 29:17)

--6. Love them unconditionally. (Luke 15:11-32)

--7. Do not provoke them to wrath. (Ephesians 6:4)

--8. Earn their respect by example. (1 Timothy 3:4)

--9. Provide for their physical needs. (1 Timothy 5:8)

--10. Pass your faith along to them. (2 Timothy 1:5)


UK Weddings at 100-year low
The number of people marrying in the UK has fallen to fewer than 250,000 a year, the lowest for more than a century, according to the Daily Telegraph. Of this number, only a third of the ceremonies, about 89,000, were religious, compared with more than 50 percent a decade earlier. There were 249,227 marriages in England and Wales in 2001, the lowest since 1897, according to the Office for National Statistics. With more couples choosing to cohabit, the trend has been downward since 1972, when the figure peaked at 426,241.
The same trends are being felt in New Zealand where there were 19,972 marriages in 2001 (the latest figure available). This was the second lowest number in the last 40 years (there were slightly fewer marriages in 1997). However, the marriage rate in 2001 was the lowest ever, at 14.81 per 1,000 single women of marriageable age. New Zealand's peak year for marrying was 1971, when the marriage rate was three times higher - 45.5 per 1,000 women.


A paper by London School of Economics economist Catherine Hakim challenges the feminist assumption that women should all be seen as 'economically independent agents'. Hakim identifies a 20 - 60 - 20 percent split in women's work-lifestyle preferences. She writes: 'A substantial minority of women, 20 percent, remain home-centred and family-centred in their values and lifestyle preferences. Roughly 20 percent are work-centred and careerist in the same way that men are said to be work-centred and careerist. Around 60 percent of women are adaptive, and the exact percentages will vary from one country to another and one region to another because these are estimates rather than fixed points.'
In other words, the reality of women's lives shows that some have aspirations for paid employment, others for rearing children at home and a large group are 'adaptable'.

This is in stark contrast to the Ministry for Women's Affairs (MWA), which states in the recent document Towards an Action Plan for New Zealand Women that the Government wants 'to improve women's economic status and well-being now and into the future' (p. 7): women's main contribution to society is through paid employment, economic independence and autonomy.

The MWA document makes no reference to men - except as perpetrators of 'gender-based violence' - nor is it assumed that having and rearing children is valid and fulfilling. Big families are problematic: 'Children in large families can be disadvantaged at school and have poorer health and social outcomes' (p. 13). Most alarming, perhaps, is that like so many Government-driven ideas, the Action Plan does not arise from any groundswell for change among the majority of New Zealanders. This initiative attempts to politicise the lived experience of New Zealand women. Some women and women's groups seek and demand change - but the vast majority do not. To improve the 'well-being' of women in New Zealand any policy must first recognise that women do not exist independently of men and children, just as neither of these groups exist independently from the other two. Properly understood, all human beings exist in interrelationship.

To view the Maxim submission on the Action Plan visit: www.maxim.org.nz/submissions/submission_women's_affairs.pdf


Generally, young people today are better educated. They are reasonably healthy although statistics show that taiohi Mäori have more health issues than their non-Mäori peers

* Family/whänau are usually the most important people in a young person's life. The quality of family relationships is more important than structure to young people.

* At the 2001 census:
Ø 65% of young people lived with their own parents or people in a parent role
Ø 83% of young people aged 12-19 years lived with their family/whänau
Ø 32% of young people aged 20-24 years lived with their family/whänau
Ø 63% of taiohi Mäori lived with their whänau compared with 69 % of Pacific young people, 67 % European and 60 % Asian
Ø 35% of families (with dependent children) received welfare support.

· Young New Zealanders are very healthy compared with the rest of the population, but they do poorly in some areas - most notably suicide rates. Other areas of concern include car accidents, alcohol and drug issues and poor sexual and reproductive health.

· Specific health risks for young people include:
*Alcohol & Drugs
· approximately 79% of 14-17 year olds drink alcohol
· young men aged 18-24 years are disproportionately heavy drinkers, and are most likely to consume six or more drinks in a single session
· the volume of drinking by young women of all age groups increased between 1995 and 2000
· around 23% of deaths in the 15-24 year age group were attributable to alcohol
· around 10% of young people are estimated to be dependent on cannabis by the age of 21.

· while a new survey shows the rate of smoking among fourth formers (year 10) is the lowest since 1992, smoking rates among young people are still high
· females are more likely to smoke than males
· young Mäori women are the most likely to smoke with nearly half of those surveyed smoking daily, weekly or monthly.

*Sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies
· the number of cases of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among young people 15-24 years has increased since 1996
· 6/10 pregnancies among women under 25 years are reportedly 'unwanted'
· between 1988 and 2000, the abortion rate increased by 62% among females aged 15-19 years and by 66% among those aged 20-24 years.

· males have higher rates of death caused by injury than females
· Mäori have higher rates of death from injury than non-Mäori.

· Outside the family, young people spend most of their time in school or undertaking further education, training or work

* The proportion of students staying at secondary school beyond the compulsory age (16 years) has gradually decreased over the past few years

* Females are outperforming males in the school sector. In 200, 41% of female school leavers gained a year 13 (7th form) qualification compared with 34% of males


* Young people have also been disproportionately affected by unemployment in times of economic recession. At the 2001 Census, 40.3% of the total unemployed in New Zealand were aged 15-24 years

* The unemployment rate for 15-19 year olds stood at 22 percent, almost three times that of the total population (7.5%)

* 28% of taiohi Mäori and 27% of young Pacific people were unemployed compared with 12% of New Zealand European and 23% of Asian.

SOURCE: Hon John Tamahere, Minister of Youth Affairs


(1) It's safer: Marriage lowers the risk that both men and women will become the victims of violence, including domestic violence.

(2) It can save your life: Married people live longer and healthier lives and the power of marriage is particularly evident in late middle age. Nine out of 10 married men and women alive at 48 will make it to 65 against six out of 10 unmarried men and eight out of 10 unmarried women.

(3) It can save your child's life: Children lead healthier, longer lives and tend to stay out of trouble if parents get and stay married.

(4) You will earn more: Men today tend to think of marriage as a consumption item but a vast body of scientific literature suggests that for men especially marriage is productive - as important as education in boosting earnings.

(5) You'll be richer: Married people not only make more money, they manage money better and build more wealth together than either would alone.

(6) You'll tame him/her: Marriage increases sexual fidelity. Cohabiting men are four times more likely to cheat than husbands and cohabiting women eight times more likely to cheat than wives.

(7) You'll stay sane: Marriage is good for mental health. Married men and women are less depressed, less anxious and less psychologically distressed than singles, the divorced or widowed.

(8) It will make you happy: Overall, 40 per cent of married people, compared with about 25 per cent of singles or cohabitors, say they are "very happy" with life in general.

(9) Your children will love you more: Adult children of intact marriages keep more regular contact with their parents than do those of divorced or cohabiting couples. And they are far more likely themselves to marry for life.

(10) You'll have better sex, more often: Despite the lurid Sex in the City marketing that promises singles erotic joys untold, both husbands and wives are more likely to report that they have an extremely satisfying sex life than are singles or cohabitors.

SOURCE: Maggie Gallagher, 'The Case for Marriage'


*** New Zealand has the developed world's second highest percentage of single parent families. By 2010, if present trends continue, half of European and nearly three-quarters of Maori infants under 12 months will be in fatherless families.

*** Recent research in Christchurch revealed that 65% of youth offenders were not living with their father.

*** Since 1970 the rate of marriage has decreased 60%, while the number of divorces has nearly doubled. Births outside of marriage have tripled in the past 30 years.

*** The rate of male youth suicide in New Zealand today is seven times higher than 1968.

*** Of the 1999 teaching graduates, 34% had left the profession within two years.

*** Since 1970 central government spending per head of population (in today's dollar terms) has increased by 225% on welfare and 211% on education.

*** We now have 409,000 people on welfare in New Zealand (excluding superannuation).

*** The New Zealand government does not track family structure in relation to many social outcomes, however data from the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia - countries which compare closely with New Zealand on social issues, show that: Compared with the intact married family, serious child abuse is 33 times higher when the mother lives with her boyfriend. The rate of child abuse fatalities is 73 times higher. (UK)

*** For every dollar spent on a child brought up in a two-parent family, the government spends $10 on a child brought up in a single parent family. (Australia)

*** Fatherless children are worse off in terms of health, educational attainment, work ethics, income and lifetime wealth. They are more prone to crime, drug addiction, divorce, unemployment, illness, truancy, suicide, poverty and depression. (UK and USA)

Source: Maxim Institute.


Around 1.3 million households were counted at the 1996 Census. Of these, 73.9 percent contained at least one family, 5.4 percent were other multi-person households, and the remaining 20.7 percent were one-person households.

Most family households contained only one family. Just 12.1 percent of family households contained two or more families, or other people in addition to a family. However, this level varied by family type. For example, around 1 in every 3 one-parent families shared a household with others.

The number of multi-family households continues to rise, almost doubling between the 1986 and 1996 Censuses to reach 32,196.

While the total number of households rose by 17.2 percent between 1986 and 1996, one-person households contributed to much of this increase, rising by 26.0 percent. During the same period the number of family households rose by 12.6 percent, and other multi-person households by just 2.7 percent.

The trend to smaller family sizes and more people living alone has driven the average household size down, falling from 3.5 in 1966 to 2.8 in 1996.

Around 4 in every 5 New Zealanders lived as part of a family at the time of the 1996 Census.

Results from the latest census show that two-parent families were the most common, accounting for 44.9 percent of all families. Couple-only (37.3 percent) and one-parent families (17.7 percent) completed the remainder.

Despite a small increase in the number of two-parent families between 1991 and 1996, the rate of increase did not keep pace with the growth of other family types, causing the proportion of two-parent families to decline.

Couple-only families recorded the highest rate of growth between the 1991 and 1996 Censuses, increasing by 15.5 percent. This trend has resulted from a combination of couples who have chosen to remain childless alongside growing numbers of 'empty nesters' (couples whose children have grown up and left home).

The number of one-parent families rose by 10.9 percent between 1991 and 1996 - much higher than the 0.6 percent increase in two-parent families, but significantly lower than the 28.7 percent increase in one-parent families recorded between the 1986 and 1991 Censuses.

Of those families with children, 79.6 percent contained at least one dependent child. Today's families are smaller, on average, than those of the past. In 1996 there was an average of 1.95 children per family compared with 2.49 in 1966.

More than half of one-parent families had only one child compared with just over a third of two-parent families.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Censuses of Population and Dwellings, 1966-1996


(Per 1000 population per year)
Sri Lanka 0.15 * 3.03%
Brazil 0.26 * 5.25%
Italy 0.27 * 5.45%
Mexico 0.33 * 6.67%
Turkey 0.37 * 7.47%
Mongolia 0.37 * 7.47%
Chile 0.38 * 7.68%
Jamaica 0.38 * 7.68%
Cyprus 0.39 * 7.88%
El Salvador 0.41 * 8.28%
Ecuador 0.42 * 8.48%
Mauritius 0.47 * 9.49%
Thailand 0.58 * 11.72%
Syria 0.65 * 13.13%
Panama 0.68 * 13.74%
Brunei 0.72 * 14.55%
Greece 0.76 * 15.35%
China 0.79 * 15.96%
Singapore 0.80 * 16.16%
Tunisia 0.82 * 16.57%
Albania 0.83 * 16.77%
Portugal 0.88 * 17.78%
Korea 0.88 * 17.78%
Trinidad 0.97 * 19.60%
Qatar 0.97 * 19.60%
Guadeloupe 1.18 * 23.84%
Barbados 1.21 * 24.44%
Finland 1.85 * 37.37%
Canada 2.46 * 49.70%
Australia 2.52 * 50.91%
New Zealand 2.63 * 53.13%
Denmark 2.81 * 56.77%
United Kingdom 3.08 * 62.22%
Russia 3.36 * 67.88%
Puerto Rico 4.47 * 90.30%
US 4.95 * 100.00%

[Statistics provided by "Fathers' Manifesto" in posting to familylaw-l@lawlib.wuacc.edu, I believe their source was a World Almanac or something similar from 1994 or thereabouts]


Committee reports marriage statistics
Monday, May 27, 2002
Moscow, Russia, May 27, 2002 (RosBusinessConsulting via COMTEX) -- The number of divorces increased 38.2 percent in Russia in the first quarter of 2002 versus the corresponding period last year and reached 224,300 (as compared to 186,100 in the first quarter of 2001). The number of marriages went up 12.5 percent, from 192,200 in the first quarter of 2001 to 204,700 in the corresponding period this year, the State Statistics Committee
reported. This means that the number of divorces surpassed the number of marriages by 19,600 from January to March this year. In the first quarter of 2001, the number of marriages was 6,100 more than that of divorces.
-- From Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education on-line newsletter

"Apparently China may soon be moving towards a legally required premarriage education, according to an article in the APA Division 48 newsletter by Ann Gardano, who just returned from there. The divorce rate in China has jumped from 4% in the 1980s to 26% in 1995! Marital therapy does not exist in the country, but "divorce school"
is mandated."
-- From Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education on-line newsletter

"Divorces in Japan have more than doubled, from just over 95,000 in 1970 to 206,955 in 1996, according to Health Ministry statistics. One in three Japanese marriages now ends in divorce."
[From AP story, "Japan's divorced find strength in numbers"]

"Since the introduction of "no-fault divorce" in Canada 30 years ago, the rate of marital break-up has soared 600%. A third of marriages fail, and over a third of those break-ups involve children. One-fifth of Canadian children have lost a parent to divorce, with an effect that some sociologists now say can be "worse than a parent's death." Divorce is
consistently associated with juvenile emotional disorders, crime, suicide, promiscuity and later marital break-up."
From "The push for 'high-octane' marriages: An American state rolls back the divorce revolution by re-establishing life-long covenants."
By Tim Rotheisler. Alberta Report, August 4, 1997

1997: the number of marriages celebrated reached an all time low of 29,611, and 12,222 divorces were granted.

From Registrar General's Annual Report 1998 (General Register Office for Scotland, 1998), Tables 7.1 and 8.1. Cited in Sutherland, Elaine E. "Scotland: Consolidation and Anticipation" in The International Survey of Family Law 2000 Edition. Jordan Publishing Ltd., 2000, p. 333.

1998: 17,800 divorces
Divorces were up 40% from 1990 to 1998
Rate of divorce: 42% projected divorce rate for marriages begun in 1998 (one of the highest in Europe)
Marriages celebrated were in decline:
1991: 47,567
1998: 38,500
1998: only 8.7% of children were born out of wedlock (one of the lowest in Europe)

Annuaire statistique de la Suisse 1999, Zurich (1999). Cited in Guillod, Olivier. "Switzerland: A New Divorce Law for the New Millennium" in The International Survey of Family Law 2000 Edition. Jordan Publishing Ltd., 2000, p.358.

Cuba has 75% Divorce Rate, rampant cohabitation "Cuba is suffering from an acute economic crisis. But many Cubans say there's a second one, the death of the idea of amily. ...Over the years, Cuban socialism has taken a toll on the traditional family. Husbands and wives sometimes have to live apart for months because of work assignments in different parts of the country. Three of every four marriages end in divorce. Common-law arrangements are more the norm than formal marriage, government statistics show."
Published Thursday, January 22, 1998, in the Miami Herald

ABORTIONS (New Zealand)

Year ended December 2001

*** There were 16,400 abortions performed in New Zealand in 2001.

*** The general abortion rate increased from 19.0 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years in 2000 to 19.4 per 1,000 in 2001.

*** Women aged 20 to 24 years had the highest abortion rate (37.5 abortions per 1,000 women) in 2001.

*** The average age of women having an abortion was 26.5 years in 2001.

*** About one in three abortions in 2001 were performed on women who had had at least one previous abortion.

***Asian women had the highest abortion ratio (364 abortions per 1,000 known pregnancies) in 2001.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

11 June 2002
Cat 04.500 Set 01/02 - 212 Search



*** There were 20,000 marriages registered in New Zealand during the December 2001 year.
*** The marriage rate per 1,000 not-married population aged 16 years and over dropped from 15.6 in 2000 to 14.8 marriages per 1,000 in 2001.
*** The median ages for men and women marrying for the first time were 29.3 and 27.5 years respectively, in 2001.
*** There were 9,700 marriage dissolutions in the December 2001 year.
*** The median age at divorce was 41.9 years for men and 39.3 years for women in 2001.
*** The divorce rate remains stable at 12.3 divorces per 1,000 existing marriages.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

14 May 2002
Cat 04.509 Set 01/02 - 193 Search


John Paul II Consortium on Marriage and the Family, 1999

*** Marriage socializes men. Once married, men earn more, work more, and attend church more often. They also frequent bars/taverns less (Nock 1998).
*** Couples who value marriage and disapprove of divorce are less likely to get divorced (Bumpass and Sweet 1995) and they are more likely to invest themselves in their marriages (Amato and Rogers 1999).
*** A survey of 18,000 adults in 17 industrialized nations found that married persons have a significantly higher level of happiness than unmarried adults, even after controlling for health and financial status, which are also linked to marriage (Stack and Eshleman 1998).
*** Akerlof (1996) ties the decline of marriage-including "shotgun marriage"-among working and lower class men to the rise in crime, drug use, and underemployment among teens and 20something men since the 1960s. He also makes the point that these trends have a multiplier effect, such that increases in the percentage of unmarried young men tend to lead to greater peer acceptance of not marrying/hooliganism, which only accelerates the downward cycle of social pathology in many urban and rural environments dominated by under-socialized unmarried young men. In making this argument, he makes a fairly powerful case that Charles Murray's welfare argument and William J. Wilson's jobs argument do not do a very good job in accounting for the rise in illegitimacy. The decline of shotgun marriage, as well as the cultural shift in sexual norms occasioned-in part-by the rise of contraception and abortion in the late 1960s, however, does a much better job accounting for the rise in illegitimacy.

*** Individuals who cohabit before they marry face a significantly higher chance of getting divorced. Estimates of this divorce risk range from 33% (Cherlin 1992) to 48% (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** "Cohabiting couples are less satisfied than married spouses with their partnerships, are not as close to their parents, are less committed to each other, and, if they eventually marry, have higher chances of divorce" (Nock 1998: 4).
*** About half of the population under age 40 has lived with an unmarried partner, with the highest rates of cohabitation found among the least educated Americans (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** Teenage girls tend to seek relationship commitment and teenage boys tend to be more interested in sexual conquest. For instance, one study of teenagers found that 8 percent of girls wanted sexual intercourse when they were "going steady," but 45 percent of boys wanted sex at this stage of intimacy. Thus, teenage sexual activity tends to favor the interests of boys but not girls (Maccoby 1998).
The Importance of the Intact/Two-Parent/Biological Family
*** Boys raised outside of an intact nuclear family are more than twice as likely as other boys to end up in prison, even controlling for a range of social and economic factors (Harper and McLanahan 1998).
*** Children raised in a single-parent family are twice as likely to drop out of high school, and girls raised in such a family are more than twice as likely to have a child out-of-wedlock as a teenager compared to children who grow up with their biological parents (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994).
*** Children who grew up in a single parent home are twice as likely to get divorced than children who grew up in a two-parent biological family (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** [Young] people from single-parent families or step-families were 2 to 3 times more likely to have had emotional or behavioral problems than those who had both of their biological parents present in the home." (Zill and Schoenborn 1990: p. 9)
*** "Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents' race or educational background, regardless of whether the parents are married when the child is born, and regardless of whether the resident parent remarries." (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994: p. 1, emphasis added).
*** "If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting. The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child." (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994: p. 38)
*** The chances of a daughter being sexually abused by her stepfather are at least 7 times greater than by her biological father (Popenoe 1996).
*** "[P]reschoolers in Hamilton [Ontario] living with one natural parent and one stepparent in 1993 were 40 times as likely to become child abuse statistics as like-aged children living with two natural parents" (Wilson and Daly 1987: p. 228).
*** More than half of the children born in 1994 will spend some or all of their childhood in a single-parent home (McLanahan 1994).
*** Approximately half of all first marriages will end in divorce (Census Bureau 1992).
*** More than two-thirds of all parental divorces do not involve highly conflicted marriages. In other words, two-thirds of divorces do not happen because of spousal physical abuse and/or serious conflict; rather, they happen because spouses grow apart. "Unfortunately, these are the very divorces that most likely to be stressful for children." (Amato and Booth 1997: p. 220) The reason? Children value the love, support, and attention they receive from their parents even if their parents' marriage isn't particularly warm.

*** Contrary to the expectations of feminists and family scholars, couples where men are more likely to share household tasks with their wives are also significantly more likely to get divorced (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** Couples where men earn the lion's share of the family income-i.e., more than 50% of couple income-are significantly less likely to get divorced (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** Children who have mothers who stay at home are more likely to be religious-pray, attend church, and the like-than children whose mothers work outside the home. "The results demonstrate that the fewer the weekly hours worked by the mother and the more weekly hours worked by the father, the higher the religiosity among adult offspring" (Myers 1996: 864). Moreover, the "religiosity of the offspring is higher if the father is the main decision-maker in the family" (Myers 1996: 864).
*** Teenagers who come home to an empty home-i.e., latchkey children-are more likely to experience emotional distress and drug/alcohol abuse (Resnick et al. 1997).
*** Couples with traditional gender role practices are significantly more likely to have children. In fact, each percentage decrease in wife's income contribution increases the odds of childbirth by 3% (Myers 1997).

*** Fertility is linked to a declining risk of divorce. In fact, each child a couple has reduces their risk of divorce by 20 percent (Kaplan, Lancaster, and Anderson 1998).
*** Couples who say good-bye to their youngest child at an early age are significantly more likely to divorce than other couples. The 20-year marriage is more vulnerable to the disruptive effects of the empty nest syndrome than the 30-year marriage (Hiedemann, Suhomlinova, and O'Rand 1998).
*** The increased availability of abortion and contraception in the late 60s and early 70s constituted a "technology shock" that "immiserated" women who sought to avoid premarital sex, according to Akerlof et al (1996). This article points to the dramatic increase in illegitimacy and premarital sex in this period, as well as the marked decline in shotgun marriages, and asks why it happened at this particular historical period. Akerlof et al. point out that the best social evidence suggests that Charles Murray's welfare thesis and William Julius Wilson's jobs argument do not explain a great deal of this rise. They argue that the increased availability of contraception and abortion meant that women could no longer hold the threat of pregnancy over their male partners, either to avoid sex or to elicit a promise of marriage in the event that pregnancy resulted from sexual intercourse. Accordingly, more and more women gave in to their boyfriends' entreaties for sex. This left traditional women who wanted to avoid abortion/contraception/sex "immiserated" because they could not compete with women who had no serious objection to premarital sex. Thus, more of these women ended up having sex and having children out of wedlock. Accordingly, this contraceptive/abortive revolution encouraged both an increase in abortions and illegitimacy. Moreover, "the norm of the premarital sexual abstinence all but vanished in the wake of the technology shock." (Akerlof et al. 1996)

*** Couples who attend church weekly are 82% less likely to divorce than couples who do not attend at all (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** From 1982 to 1988, the percentage of white female adolescent virgins fell from 51 to 42 percent. But the virginity rate among white female adolescents in conservative Protestant churches rose from 45 to 61 percent. (Brewster et al. 1998)
*** Single women under the age of 35 who never attend church are almost twice as likely to cohabit as those who attend church (Protestant or Catholic) on a weekly basis (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).
*** Single women under the age of 35 who indicate a Catholic affiliation cohabit at greater rates than other Christians (Bumpass and Sweet 1995).

George A. Akerlof. 1998. "Men Without Children." The Economic Journal 108: 287-309.
George A. Akerlof, Janet L. Yellen, and Michael L. Katz. 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States." Quarterly Journal of Economics CXI: 277-317.
Paul Amato and Alan Booth. 1997. A Generation at Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Paul Amato and Stacy Rogers. 1999. "Do Attitudes Toward Divorce Affect Marital Quality?" Journal of Family Issues (forthcoming).
Karen L. Brewster et al. 1998. "The Changing Impact of Religion on the Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior of Adolescent Women in the United States." Journal of Marriage and the Family 60: 493-503.
Larry L. Bumpass and James A. Sweet. 1995. "Cohabitation, Marriage and Union Stability: Preliminary Findings from NSFH2." NSFH Working Paper No. 65. Center for Demography and Ecology: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Andrew J. Cherlin. 1992. Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (revised). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Richard T. Gill. 1997. Posterity Lost: Progress, Ideology, and the Decline of the American Family. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Cynthia C. Harper and Sara S. McLanahan. 1998. "Father Absence and Youth Incarceration." Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (San Francisco).
Bridget Hiedemann, Olga Suhomlinova, and Angela M. O'Rand. 1998. "Economic independence, Economic status, and Empty Nest in Midlife Marital Disruption," Journal of Marriage and the Family 60: 219-231.
Hillard S. Kaplan, Jane B. Lancaster, and Kermyt G. Anderson. 1998. "Human Parental Investment and Fertility: The Life Histories of Men in Albuquerque." In Men in Families, edited by Alan Booth and Ann Crouter. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Press.
Eleanor E. Maccoby. 1998. The Two Sexes. Cambridge: Harvard University Pres.
Sara McLanahan. 1994. "The Consequences of Single Motherhood," The American Prospect 18: 48-58.
Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur. 1994. Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Scott M. Myers. 1996. "An Interactive Model of Religiosity Inheritance: The Importance of Family Context."
American Sociological Review 61: 858-866. 1997. "Marital Uncertainty and Childbearing." Social Forces 75: 1271-1289.
Steven Nock. 1998. Marriage in Men's Lives. New York: Oxford University Press.
David Popenoe. 1996. Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society. New York: Free Press.
Michael D. Resnick et al. 1997. "Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings From the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health." Journal of the American Medical Association 278: 823-832.
Steven Sack and J. Ross Eshleman. 1998. "Marital Status and Happiness: A 17-Nation Study," Journal of Marriage and the Family 60: 527-536.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1992. "Households, Families, and Children: A 30-Year Perspective," Current Population Reports, Pp. 23-181.
Margo Wilson and Martin Daly. 1987. "Risk of Maltreatment of Children Living with Stepparents." Pp. 215-232 in R. Gelles and J. Lancaster, eds., Child Abuse and Neglect: Biosocial Dimensions. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Nicholas Zill and Charlotte A. Schoenborn. 1990. "Developmental, Learning, and Emotional Problems: Health of Our Nation's Children, United States, 1988." Advance Data, National Center for Health Statistics, No. 120, p. 9.


I'm wondering if you, or anyone, has data about our current overall divorce rate today? There seems to be conflicting data -- from 30 -50%, and different surveys vary, e.g. that recent survey in MN which shows a low rate. Do you know what the overall national rate is, and what the source is? Thanks very much.

FIRSTLY From: Scott Stanley, University of Denver (author: The Heart of Commitment)

1) As recently as 1992, the U.S. Bureau of Census completed a sophisticated analysis and concluded:
". . . if one assumes a continuation of recent divorce trends, about 4 out of 10 first marriages to the youngest cohort may eventually end in divorce. Alternatively, if one assumes a return to the pattern of divorce during the 1975 to 1980 period, 5 out of 10 first marriages may eventually end in divorce (Current Population Reports, P23-180, 1992, p. 5), ."
So, the 40-50% number is a projection for younger folks marrying for the first time. As comes across in this piece, conditions in society could change to affect this either way. In fact, Andrew Cherlin, one of the prominent scientists in this area, believes that these kinds of projections are very valid, but also suggests that it is particularly hard to confidently predict the future in times of great social change.

2). So, what is the divorce rate? Consider the following statements:
+ Approximately 31% of your friends and co-workers, aged 35 to 54, who are married, engaged, or cohabitating have already been previously divorced.
+ If your parents have been married many years (let's say 35+ years) and have never been divorced, the likelihood of their marriage ending in divorce is nil.
+ The rate of divorces per year per 1000 people in the U.S. has been declining since 1981.
+ A young couple marrying for the first time today has a lifetime divorce risk of 40%, unless current trends change significantly.
Each of these statements is true and defensible. They each tell you something different about divorce. On the positive side, the rate has been slowing declining. On the negative side, a young couple really does have a very high chance of not making it.

3) William Mattox, who writes for USA TODAY, has raised an excellent concern about the ways such numbers can be misunderstood. Do couples really understand that the 40-50% number is only a projection that is not written in stone? Does this projection leave couples demoralized, feeling that most couples are doomed to fail anyway? Or does it give rise to motivation to take marriage more seriously? We really do not know the answer to this question. Mattox's point is very important: couples need to know that they do not have to live out the prevailing societal trends. There's nothing wrong with the 40-50% projection, it's just that couples don't necessarily have to stand by and let it come to pass.

4) New data shows that first-born kids are now less likely to be born to a married person than an out-of-wedlock person.

SECONDLY From: Dr. Paul Amato Department of Sociology University of Nebraska-Lincoln Author Generation At Risk

This is a response to your question about divorce rates. There are several different ways to measure the "divorce rate." A common method is to consider the number of divorces in a given year per 1,000 married couples in that year. Currently, the rate is about 20. This rate hasn't changed much since 1980, when it peaked around 22. (The Statistical Abstract of the United States, available in most libraries, has information of this sort.)
What most people want to know, however, is the percentage of marriages that will end in divorce. Unfortunately, this is a difficult statistic to calculate, and it depends on certain assumptions. Some demographers estimate that about 40% of recent first marriages will end in divorce. Other demographers put the figure higher, at around 60%. Most researchers appear to have settled for a figure of about 50%. So, we estimate that about half of all first marriages end these days, and this situation has changed little since the early 1980s. Keep in mind that divorce rates vary from state to state and from region to region. Also, the likelihood of divorce is higher in second or higher-order marriages. I hope this information is useful.


Nearly one-third of all adults (32%) said that their life would be a success if they were able to have a strong family unit, a solid and lasting marriage or if they had done a good job of raising their children. Naming family life as the primary success factor was most common among Catholics (38%) and people with children under 18 (44%). This factor was least likely to top the list among African-Americans (19%) and people associated with non-Christian faiths (21%).

Not far behind was some indication of tangible accomplishment during one's life. Mentioned as the primary reflection of success by one-fourth of the population, this most often entailed financial accumulation, educational achievement or making a difference in the world. This view was most often held by adults under age 35 and by people associated with a faith other than Christianity.

One out of every seven adults (14%) stated that success was due to personal emotional fulfilment. This was most often reflected in obtaining a prestigious job or achieving a state of happiness or satisfaction with life. Emotional fulfilment was generational in nature. Baby Busters (adults 37 or younger) were twice as likely as Baby Boomers (i.e., adults 38 to 56 years of age) and three times more likely than Elders (people 57 or older) to cite emotional satisfaction as their yardstick of success. Faith views also impacted this outcome, as evidenced by 27% of atheists and agnostics citing emotional fulfilment factors, compared to just 8% of evangelical Christians.

Similar and smaller numbers of people said that success was a result of spiritual experiences or development (7%) or experiencing good health (8%). Catholics were twice as likely as Protestants or people of non-Christian faiths to cite good health as their measure of success. Spirituality was most frequently cited by evangelicals. In fact, nearly half of the evangelical group (43%) equated spiritual development with success - six times the national norm.

Also of significance was the finding that one-quarter of the adult population has no idea what would make their life successful. This lack of clarity regarding success was most prevalent among people 55 or older and among individuals who had never attended college. Such a viewpoint was least common among evangelicals.

The study revealed that different faith groups had significantly divergent views of success. For instance, family health, faith development and making a difference in the world combined to reflect the success factors of nearly nine out of ten evangelicals (86%). That dwarfed the figures associated with non-evangelical born again Christians (47%), self-described Christians who are not born again (40%), atheists (33%), and people aligned with a non-Christian faith (29%). Similarly, about half of all Protestants (49%) and Catholics (47%) indicated that this parcel of factors would fit their concept of life success.

One clear pattern was that the younger a person is, the less likely they are to identify their spiritual condition as the determinant of success. Baby Busters were only half as likely as Boomers and just one-third as likely as Elders to identify spiritual development as the key to personal success.

In relation to this research, George Barna, the author of 33 books noted, will address four significant issues facing churches, regarding worldview development, ministry to children, cultural and spiritual trends and leadership challenges. "Americans are interested in spiritual matters and invest time and money in religious activity, but it's shocking how few of those people make the connection between spiritual wholeness and life success. The fact that a mere 10% of the non-evangelical born again Christians define success in relation to faith suggests that what's missing is more than better sermons, more comfortable sanctuaries or a greater number of professional staff at the typical church. People continue to divorce their faith from their self-image and their assessment of personal significance."

SOURCE: George Barna Online: