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The once highly sought after “American Dream” has all but disappeared from the landscape of U.S. culture. People don’t even talk about it anymore because it’s become so unattainable for most. The short version of the “American Dream” goes something like this:
The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone.
That’s a very generalized description.
The more accurate version is a bit more involved and typically includes graduating from school, landing a good job, getting married, buying a house, having kids, going on a yearly vacation, and doing all of these wonderful things while living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Sadly, most young people can’t afford a house, the job market is all over the map, our nation’s youth is riddled with anxiety, they can’t find a partner to marry, and they’d rather own a dog than have a family. All of that sounds comically sad, but it’s actually true.
As Axios pointed out back in February of this year, U.S. marriage rates have nose-dived:
Americans are increasingly forgoing or delaying marriage — a dramatic shift from societal norms a generation ago.
By the numbers: Over the last 50 years, the marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 60%.
What’s happening: Taxes and some other legal structures still give an advantage to married couples, but the formal benefits of marriage are diminishing, said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins. And the societal pressure to marry has eroded dramatically.
“Life is still a bit easier if you’re married,” he said. But many of the life events we link to marriage, such as cohabitating or having kids, are increasingly occurring outside of marriage.
Think about that — the marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 60% over the past 50 years.
Part of the plummet is due to the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family, migration away from Christian values, and the anti-male feminist movement.
“It used to be a basic institution that everyone had to buy into in early adulthood,” Cherlin said. “You got married, then you moved in together, and then you got a job.”
“Marriage is now becoming the last step into adulthood.” And it’s an optional step. People are more likely to want to finish their education, find a job and pay off debt before getting hitched.
As a result, many are delaying marriage.
The number of women entering their first marriage between the ages of 40 and 59 has jumped 75% since 1990, Brown said.
And while the left thinks this is “progress,” folks on the right believe this is a five-alarm warning sign that America is heading off a cliff.
Economically speaking, we’re just starting to see the financial damage that comes from the breakdown of that once-coveted “American Dream.” According to Zippia, The wedding industry is absolutely huge in the United States, with a market size by revenue of over $70 billion as of 2023. With marriage numbers falling at such a rapid pace, it’s only a matter of time before the industry begins to erode.
As a matter of fact, just recently, the once-mega popular David’s Bridal filed for their second Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the past five years. Things don’t look good for the former bridal powerhouse as they plan to lay off a staggering 9,000 workers.
David’s Bridal announced early Monday morning it has filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey, under which it will continue a sale process for the company.
Why it matters: Distressed situations and bankruptcies broadly are increasing after a relatively quiet 2021 and 2022.
Catch up fast: It’s the second trip through bankruptcy court in less than five years for the Conshohocken, Pa.-based bridal company, colloquially known as a Chapter 22.
After the company revealed plans on Friday to lay off more than 9,000 employees in the coming months, Axios reported the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy.
And it’s not just David’s Bridal who’s feeling the squeeze of a “marriage-free” America. Popular wedding brand Alfred Angelo filed bankruptcy, and countless small business bridal boutiques owned by everyday Americans have also gone belly up. If you don’t have brides, you don’t have business. And from the looks of it, things are going to get a lot worse for the wedding industry before they begin to improve.
Maybe it’s time to rekindle the long-lost “American Dream,” and make it a reality for our nation’s youth, before everything in this country begins to crumble.
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