Why We Need a Marriage Index
What helps us the most to thrive, as individuals and as a society? Money or marriage? Assets or relationships?
Here's what we know: A large body of research suggests that the status of our marriages influences our well-being at least as much as the status of our finances.
But consider this puzzle. Why do we so carefully measure and widely publicize our leading economic indicators, and do everything we can to improve them, while rarely bothering to measure our leading marriage indicators, or try to do anything as a society to improve them?
In recent decades, economists have developed a set of Leading Economic Indicators fundamental, carefully chosen measurements that reveal the direction and overall health of the U.S. economy. These indicators are generally accepted by elites and by the broad public as both accurate and important. As a result, they matter. We read about them in publications and hear about them on TV. Policy makers and opinion shapers pay attention to them. If they are improving, we tend to rejoice.
If they are declining, we tend to fret, and ask, "What can we do?" But what about attending as a society to the health of our marriages? There is no equivalent effort to focus on marriage. We do not, as in the case of the economy, have generally accepted leading measurements, or even much of a sense that such measurements (even if we did agree on them) would truly matter to our well-being and therefore call for a collective response. As a result, to whatever degree we do have them, they actually don't matter much. The absence of a clear, compelling, and commonly-agreed upon set of leading marriage indicators prevents us from focusing clearly on the health of marriage in America. Consequently, policy makers and opinion leaders rarely seem to care about marriage trends, or even notice them.
How odd. This situation should change. And now it can change. A bipartisan group of scholars and leaders has carefully developed a set of Leading Marriage Indicators fundamental, well-chosen measurements that accurately reveal the direction and overall health of marriage as a U.S. social institution.
Why does the U.S. need a Marriage Index?
Because unless we know where we are, and why that matters, we can't know where to go.
Because no social progress is possible without widely shared, trackable goals.
Because for any society that cares about its future, leading marriage indicators are as important as leading economic indicators.
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