Americans with low income and education are less likely to marry than those who are better off, says a new study.
The trend suggests that they place a high premium on financial stability before marriage, a bar they may never meet, reports Live Science.
The study, conducted by Pew Research Center in conjunction with TIME, revealed a deep ambivalence toward marriage. Nearly 40 percent of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, an 11-percent increase since 1978.
The number of married couples has dropped, too: In 1960, 72 percent of American adults were married. In 2008, that number was 52 percent.
Nonetheless, 69 percent of people say that single women having children is bad for society, and 61 percent say kids need both a mom and a dad to grow up happily.
The decline of marriage is class-based, the study found. In 1960, people with a college degree were only 4 percentage points more likely to be married than people with a high school education or less. By 2008, that gap widened to 16 percentage points. Just under half (48 percent) of people without college degrees were married in 2008, compared to 64 percent of college grads.
The difference was that 38 percent of people with less education said financial stability was an important condition for marriage, compared with 21 percent of college-educated people.
However, 67 percent saying they're upbeat about the future of marriage and family. Americans take it seriously. More than three-quarters say family is the most important element of their life.
Eighty-eight percent of people view a childless married couple as a family. Nearly as many (80 percent), say a cohabitating couple with a child is a family, and 86 percent say a single parent and a child is a family. Just over 65 percent say a gay or lesbian couple raising a child is a family.
The full report is available at the Pew Research Center.