“When an institution so central to human experience suddenly changes shape in the space of a generation or two, it’s worth trying to figure out why.” Belinda Luscombe of TIME magazine made that observation in the course of reporting on a major study of marriage undertaken by TIME and the Pew Research Center. In the cover story for the magazine’s November 29, 2010 edition, Luscombe summarizes their findings with a blunt statement: “What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual, or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be.”

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