There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of marriage. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has dropped. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.
At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%.
The “marriage gap” is one of the chief sources of the countrys notorious and widening inequality. Middle-class kids growing up with two biological parents are “socialised for success”. They do better in school, get better jobs and go on to create families of their own.
Children of single parents or broken families do worse in school, get worse jobs and go on to have children out of wedlock. This makes it more likely that those born near the top or the bottom will stay where they started.A large majority—92%—of children whose families make more than $75,000 a year live with two parents (including step-parents). At the bottom of the income scale—families earning less than $15,000—only 20% of children live with two parents. One might imagine that this gap arises simply because two breadwinners earn more than one. A single mother would have to be unusually talented and diligent to make as much as $75,000 while also raising children on her own. And it is impossible in America for two full-time, year-round workers to earn less than $15,000 between them.
But there is more to it than this. Marriage itself is a wealth-generating institution. Those who marry “till death do us part” end up, on average, four times richer than those who never marry. This is partly because marriage provides economies of scale—two can live more cheaply than one—and because the kind of people who make more money—those who work hard, plan for the future and have good interpersonal skills—are more likely to marry and stay married. But it is also because marriage affects the way people behave.
American men, once married, tend to take their responsibilities seriously. Married men drink less, take fewer drugs and work harder, earning between 10% and 40% more than single men with similar schooling and job histories. And marriage encourages both spouses to save and invest more for the future. Each partner provides the other with a form of insurance against falling sick or losing a job. Marriage also encourages the division of labour. As Adam Smith observed two centuries ago, when you specialise, you get better at what you do, and you produce more.
注（2）：本文习题命题模仿对象为2004 年真题Text 4。
1． Which of the following did NOT happen during 1975-1994?
[A] Less people who received high education got divorced.
[B] More high school dropouts failed their first marriage.
[C] Many women did not marry because of their reluctance of children-rearing.
[D] The divorce rate of high school graduates increased.