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Valentine's Day report: seven ways marriage is changing

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Data show that Americans have put off marriage during the economic downturn.

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2. Not during a recession, honey

How did the recession affect marriage and divorce? As also happened during the Great Depression, both marriage and divorce rates dropped. Some 52 percent of adults were married in 2009, compared with 57 percent in 2000. Americans were reluctant on the one hand to take on the financial commitment of marriage as pink slips and pay cuts proliferated – and wary of the expensive legal battles and resource-splitting associated with divorce.

There is good news, too. “We’ve seen an increasing solidarity among some [married] adults because of the recession,” says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “There’s a renewed appreciation for the more fundamental, pragmatic benefits of marriage, like securing social welfare.”

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