(CN) — The portrait of the modern family is changing but most Americans are rolling with the punches, according to research published by Pew on Thursday, which found broad support for a variety of family structures.
Over the last 20 years, Pew tracked a 15-point decline in the number of people who are getting married along with a growing number of couples who decide to cohabitate. Fewer people are having kids, and when they do decide to procreate, it's often later in life.
“Public views of the family are complicated,” the authors explain in the study. “There is no consensus on how some of the broad trends that are driving family change will impact the country in the future.”
In hopes of better understanding “views of trends in marriage, fertility and family life,” researches spoke with 5,073 adults this past April.
Two-in-five Americans told Pew they're pessimistic about the future of the family, while one-in-five are optimistic. The issue of the family institution actually falls last on a list of concerns topped by worried about general moral standards in America and the nation’s education system.
Nearly half of people had a negative opinion of the fact that fewer children are being raised by two parents, which 11% of people considered a positive thing. A third of people think it's good that people are getting married later in life, which 9% of respondents considered a negative.
Republicans were more likely to see these trends as negative, compared to Democrats. Two-thirds of Republicans think the U.S. will be negatively impacted by fewer children being raised by two parents, compared to a third of Democrats. Only 15% of Democrats are concerned about unmarried couples living together compared to 44% of Republicans.
And Republicans were less likely to accept family arrangements that don't center around a married heterosexual couple with children.
“We know that families are changing and there is no typical American family these days,” said Pew’s director of social and demographic trends research Kim Parker in a statement. “Majorities find most types of families acceptable, but the public does differentiate.”
While a majority of people expressed support for different family makeups, 90% of people asked considered traditionally married heterosexual couple with kids “completely acceptable.” The research found greater acceptance of married couples who chose not to have kids over less traditional families raising kids. Only half of respondents found it “completely acceptable” for either a married same-sex couple or an unmarried separate-sex couple to raise kids.
Nevertheless, Americans don’t rate family as integral to living a fulfilling life. Seventy percent of the respondents named having a job they enjoy as important having a good life. Sixty percent valued having close friends. Roughly a quarter of people valued having children or being married — nearly equal to the share of people who valued being rich.
More than half of Americans say “unhappy couples tend to stay in bad marriages too long,” but 43% think couples get divorced too quickly.Follow @bright_lamp
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