Threatening someone with a shotgun for matrimonial purposes — whether or not carnal relations placed someone in a family way — is a crime. Still, the term lives on in the world of academia. Specifically, Duke University.

“In the 1930s, half of all unmarried pregnant women in the United States married before giving birth, according to U.S. Census data. As premarital sex and out-of-wedlock childbearing became more common, rates of shotgun marriage dropped sharply,” Duke University researchers report [via phys.org]. “By the second half of the 2000s, only 6 percent of unmarried pregnant woman married before giving birth, according to government figures.” That said . . .

Against the backdrop of an overall decline, shotgun marriages have actually risen among certain groups of women, including young mothers and those with less education, according to the new research published online Nov. 1 in Demography . . .

Not many people have a shotgun marriage, but it’s more common among groups who otherwise have low marriage rates—African-Americans, those with less education and those under 25,” said Gibson-Davis, a faculty fellow of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and an associate professor of public policy, sociology and psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “This matters because having married parents may be good for the children involved.”

May be? Absent domestic violence and child abuse, as a single father, I reckon most children benefit from a two-parent family. And yes, simple semantics qualify this post for this website. And this is the 19:00 CMT Not Quite So Serious post. Tough room!

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16 Responses to Duke University: “The Death of the Shotgun Marriage Has Been Greatly Exaggerated”

  1. The statistics are overwhelming. Single mothers are among the worst options for who raises a child.

    Still, the term “shotgun wedding” to describe a wedding where the woman is pregnant without any coercion is pretty old. Duke is hardly new here.

  2. I thought a shotgun wedding was just a quick wedding like eloping. Didn’t know it had anything to do with pregnancy.

    • Stems from the idea that the young man has dishonored the young woman by getting her with child, and the father or other male figure encourages matrimony by placing the muzzle end of a shotgun against the back of the young man.

      This is generally as soon as pregnancy is known, so as to suggest pregnancy occurred during the honeymoon and the child born late-term instead of full-term, maintaining the facade of honor.

      So, you’re right about it being usually being quick. But, you missed the motivator.

  3. I know two unmarried pregnant teens who stayed unmarried because marriage would have killed their health insurance, which they felt they needed for childbirth. That’s probably why the prenatal marriage rates dropped to 6%. They both married the guy after the pregnancy was over, and later had more kids together.

    I wonder if the change in treatment of pre-existing conditions will increase the marriage rate of pregnant teens. You’ll still get kicked off your family policy when you get married, but you can buy a new policy, probably with government money.

  4. As long as we’re discussing outdated grammatical terms with the word “shotgun” in it that are fading from our national lexicon, here’s another: Shotgun house. Once common throughout the American South, no one builds them anymore and some still standing have even been declared historical landmarks.

  5. Shotgun weddings only work where people are willing to morally and ethically provide for a better family, but not now when “it takes a village to raise an idiot” is government-sponsored.

  6. Hey I volunteered to marry the girl I knocked up. He’s 42 and doing great. Would I do that again? Yes. Even though it didn’t work out ‘tll later. Some old-fashioned notion of doing the right thing…

  7. Just because they don’t get married doesn’t mean the couple doesn’t manage to stay together. I’ve seen other studies that show that despite declining “shotgun marriages”, a lot of unmarried couples raise their children together. People are starting to realized that the government has no business regulating marriage. I don’t believe a government certificate should be what defines marriage. Any declaration of marriage to peers and family should be enough, whether it’s announcing it to them, signing a contract together, or a traditional ceremony. Either get rid of tax distinctions for married couples, or accept any couple who claims to be married as such.

  8. Just because they don’t get married doesn’t mean the couple doesn’t manage to stay together. I’ve seen other studies that show that despite declining “shotgun marriages”, a lot of unmarried couples raise their children together. People are starting to realized that the government has no business regulating marriage. I don’t believe a government certificate should be what defines marriage. Any declaration of marriage to peers and family should be enough, whether it’s announcing it to them, signing a contract together, or a traditional ceremony. Either get rid of tax distinctions for married couples, or accept any couple who claims to be married as such.

  9. Other than the phrase including the word “shotgun” (while not having anything to do with actual shotguns), what on earth does this even REMOTELY have to do with firearms? I’m fine with firearms related politics stuff. Knife review. Flashlight reviews, etc etc etc. But this is a post about an academic analysis of the time-domain rates of marriage by pregnant women? I mean… what?

    • In the South side-by-side double barrel 12GA is preferred, but any caliber capable of producing the appropriate result is acceptable.

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