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Time survey finds 39% Americans believe marriage is obsolete

Marriage no longer dominates family life

Almost four in ten American couples, or 39 per cent of those polled in a Time magazine study, now believe that marriage is becoming obsolete, according to results published by the magazine on Thursday after conducting a new survey.

The findings of the survey, conducted in conjunction with the Pew Research Centre, were published online and in this week's issue of the magazine.

The results pointed out some key transformations the American society was undergoing since the poll was conducted in 1978 by Time magazine. The most significant fact thrown up by the research is that 40 per cent of Americans believe marriage is obsolete, up from 28 per cent in 1978.

Another important result pointing out the socio-economic gap inherent in the American society was that the median household income of married adults was 41 per cent higher than unmarried adults, up 29 per cent from 50 years ago.

The research also showed that nearly one in three American children were now living with a parent who was divorced, separated or never married, a five-fold increase from 1960.

However, Belinda Luscombe, editor at Time magazine, explains that marriage is still important to most Americans, but it doesn't dominate family life like it did in the 1950s.

Despite a growing view that marriage may not be necessary, 67 per cent of Americans were upbeat about the future of marriage and family.

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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.