Printer friendly version

March 20, 2004

The Generational View, the Lifeline View, and Now the Inside View

Oscar Jr. has an interesting analysis of the supposed generation of same-sex marriage supporters that is currently working its way through higher education. Taking note of my previous post on the issue, Oscar suggests that support for same-sex marriage is inversely proportional to having been married. With marriage rates falling, support for same-sex marriage increases accordingly:

If my theory is correct, then the increased support for same-sex marriage that actually has occurred (as opposed to that expected to occur due to a hypothesized "generational shift" in the future) may be due to the fact that fewer people are getting married these days.

This is certainly a factor, and Oscar is correct to glean that I would include marriage as part of the life experience that makes people more conservative as they get older. However, there are a couple of additional considerations that I would suggest. For one thing, he uses "never been married" data, while currently married — and especially, currently happily married — would be more helpful. It certainly has seemed to me that many of same-sex marriage's strongest supporters have been divorced (or would like to be).

That difference might help to alleviate my second concern. As Oscar's chart shows, experience with having been married slopes gradually according to age, and even more so now than in 1970, according to his data. The lack of a gradual slope in either direction on the question of same-sex marriage was the essential reason that I sought a further dynamic.

Data that would be really helpful to Oscar's analysis would be poll results on some previous marital change, such as divorce or contraception rights. All of the same variables would still come into play, but it would offer another example of marriage's correlation to certain opinions about marriage. And maybe some previous pollster would have had the foresight to gather information about respondents' marital status.

Posted by Justin Katz at March 20, 2004 11:38 PM
Marriage & Family