The survival of marriage as an institution is threatened by divorce, promiscuity, sexual deviation, discrimination against women, and lack of religious conviction. Cohabitation is one alternative and families with single women heads is another. If marriage is denied, the result is any children of the union will be illegitimate. Complications resulting from the demise of marriage involve the apportionment of property and the custody of children after divorce, and a wide range of social and psychological problems.
The processes of urbanization, the destruction of the extended family and the secularization of society are working against the family playing these crucial roles in society. The survival of marriage is particularly threatened in developed countries and certain communist countries where the population is relatively mobile and strong family ties have been broken. Sweden's Erlander Report states that "benefits previously inherent in married status should be eliminated. Adults should be treated in the same manner by society whether they live alone or in some form of common living arrangement".
The proportion of new households set up by married couples is on the rise in the USA. Proportionately fewer people are living together out of wedlock or living unmarried with their children. A greater number of young people are continuing to live at home with their parents. The divorce rate has leveled out to about 4.8 per thousand of the total population, down from a peak of 5.3 in 1981.