Nearly four-in-ten survey respondents (39%) say that marriage has become obsolete as an institution in American life. In 1978, when TIME magazine posed this question to registered voters, just 28% agreed. Those most likely to agree include those who are a part of the phenomenon (62% of cohabiting parents) as well as those most likely to be troubled by it (42% of self-described conservatives). Despite these growing uncertainties, Americans are more upbeat about the future of marriage and family (67% say they are optimistic) than about the future of the country’s educational system (50% optimistic), its economic system (46% optimistic) or its morals and ethics (41% optimistic). Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.