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笔译:更完美的结合


笔译、口译、同声传译
A more perfect union

更完美的结合

 

婚姻较 以往有更多好处,但也更“高不可攀”。问题由此而生

Wedlock is more rewarding than ever—and also more upmarket. That is a problem

MARRIAGE idealises permanence, and yet it is changing more rapidly than at any time in its history. Almost everywhere it is becoming freer, more equal and more satisfying. As our special report this week explains, wedlock has become so good that it is causing trouble.

婚姻以永恒为理想,但如今 婚姻变化之快前所未有。在世界几乎所有地方,婚姻都正变得更自由、更平等,也更美满。本周的 特别报道要剖析的是,婚姻愈趋美好,反而造成了问题。

 

The most benign changes are taking place in poor and middle-income countries (where most people live). Child marriage, once rife, is ebbing. So is cousin marriage, with its attendant risk of genetic defects, though it is still fairly common in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Relations between husbands and wives have become more equal (though not equal enough). As women earn more and the stigma of divorce fades, more men are finding that they cannot treat their wives as servants (or, worse, punchbags), because women can credibly threaten to walk away.

最良性 的改变发生在穷国和中等收入国家(世界大 多数人口生活于此)。曾经盛 行的童婚习俗正在消退。可能导 致遗传缺陷的近亲联姻也在减少,不过这 在中东和亚洲部分地区仍然相当普遍。夫妻关 系已经变得更平等(尽管还不够平等)。随着女 性收入的提高和离婚恶名的消减,越来越 多男性发现自己不能把妻子当佣人(或者更糟糕地,拿她们做出气筒),因为女 性可以放言走人,而且说到做到。

 

In some regions change has been astoundingly quick. In India the share of women marrying by the age of 18 has dropped from 47% to 27% in a single decade. “Love marriages” remain disreputable in India, and arranged marriages the norm. But, as in many traditional societies, young people have more say. Some can veto the mates their families suggest; others choose their own, subject to a parental veto. Across the world, popular culture is raising expectations of what a good marriage is like, and dating websites are giving singletons vastly more options.

在某些地区,变化之快令人吃惊。在印度,18岁之前 结婚的女性比例仅十年间就从47%下降到27%。“自由恋爱结婚”在印度 依然是有损名声之举,父母包 办婚姻仍是主流。但和许 多传统社会一样,年轻人 已经有了更大的自主权。一些人 可以否决家人提议的婚配对象,也有的 人自己选择对象,但父母保留否决权。在世界各地,流行文 化正在提高人们对美好婚姻的期望值,而婚恋 交友网站极大地增加了单身人士的选择。

 

Ring the changes

婚姻变奏

 

The worrying part is what is going on in rich countries. In the West marriage is in excellent shape, but only among the well-off. Elite couples delay tying the knot to allow time to get established in a career, but they still tie it before having children. Working-class people, by contrast, are dramatically less likely to put a ring before a cradle than in previous generations. Among the college-educated in America, only 12% of births are to unmarried mothers; among those who dropped out of high school, the rate is 70%, up from 43% in the early 1980s. Similar trends can be seen across the wealthy world: the average out-of-wedlock birth rate for OECD countries is 40%.

令人担 忧的变化发生在发达国家。在西方,婚姻状况非常好,但只限于富裕阶层。精英情 侣为立业而推迟成家,不过还 是会在生孩子前共结连理。相比之下,劳工阶 层先结婚后生子的可能性要远低于前几代人。在受过 大学教育的美国人中,未婚生育只占12%,而在高中辍学者中,该比例达70%,而上世纪80年代初时为43%。类似的 趋势在富裕国家普遍可见:经合组 织成员国的平均非婚生育率为40%。

 

If marriage were just a piece of paper this would not matter. However, it is much more than that. Although a wedding cannot turn a flimsy relationship into a strong one, it adds scaffolding that can save one that is in between. Making a public, lifelong commitment to another person is not the same as drifting into cohabitation to share the rent. And this matters a lot if children are involved. One study in America found that 18% of married couples broke up within five years of a birth, compared with 47% of cohabiting couples.

婚姻如 果只是一纸凭证,那么这 种趋势无关紧要。但是婚姻远不止于此。虽然一 场婚礼不能把脆弱不堪的关系变得坚不可摧,但能为 不那么牢固的关系提供支持,使之免于破裂。对另一 个人公开承诺终身相伴有别于为分担房租而潦草地同居。如果涉及生儿育女,这一点 就变得非常重要。美国一项研究发现,已婚夫 妇在孩子出生后五年内分道扬镳的有18%,而在同 居伴侣中这一比例达到47%。

 

Children from stable backgrounds tend to do better in school and life—and are more likely to form stable unions of their own. Add the trend towards “assortative mating”, when high-achievers marry other high-achievers, and the gap between elite and working-class families yawns. Affluent parents intensively nurture their children for success; the offspring of less fortunate homes fall far behind before they ever set foot in a school. The marriage gap makes rich countries more unequal, and retards social mobility.

来自稳 定家庭的孩子往往在学习和生活上都有更好的表现,未来拥 有稳定婚姻的可能性也更大。加上“门当户对”的婚配趋势,强强联 姻令精英阶层和劳工阶层家庭之间的差距变得难以逾越。富裕的 父母精心培育孩子,助其成功,而那些 没那么幸运的家庭的子女还没踏入校门就已远远落后。这种“婚姻差异”使得富 裕国家变得愈加不平等,也令社会流动性受阻。

 

Improbable as it may seem, this pattern is likely to reach every corner of the globe. The forces that have shaken up marriage in rich countries—rising individualism, education, women’s economic emancipation—are spreading. It is not just a Western trend. For a long time Japan resisted it: highly educated women were less likely to marry than others. Now they are more likely to (and less likely to divorce).

虽然看上去不太现实,但这种 趋势很可能扩展至全球每个角落。那些动 摇了发达国家婚姻关系的力量正在蔓延——个人主义兴起、受教育程度提高、女性经济解放。这不仅是西方的潮流。长期以来,日本一直反其道而行:受过高 等教育的女性结婚率低于其他人。但现在,她们比 其他人更容易结婚,而且更不容易离婚。

 

The revolution in family life is largely beneficial, and there is not much that governments can do about its harmful side-effects. America has tried hard to promote wedlock among poor people since the 1990s, but failed utterly. Countries should try to ensure that their welfare systems do not penalise marriage among the poor. They should not, however, lurch in the other direction by providing tax benefits to the married. Given the growing social stratification of marriage, such measures are exceedingly regressive.

家庭生 活的革命大体上是件好事,至于其有害的副作用,政府能做的也很有限。自上世纪90年代以来,美国一 直努力推动穷人结婚,但一败涂地。各国政 府应努力确保它们的福利制度不会不利于选择结婚的穷人,但也不 应倒向另一个方向,给予已 婚人士税收优惠。鉴于婚 姻的社会分层日渐加深,这些措 施是极为倒退的。

 

Working-class Westerners have not given up on marriage. On the contrary, many idealise it. Rather than seeing it as the start of a couple’s journey together, as in the past, they often see it as something not to try until they arrive—with a good job, a house, financial stability and a lavish party. Many feel they are not “ready” to marry, even as they embark on parenthood. Helpfully, some European countries have begun to offer civil unions for heterosexuals. (Gay couples already had that option.) They confer nearly all the rights of marriage but entail less of the intimidating hoopla. These now account for a fifth of new formal unions in the Netherlands, and more in some working-class districts. They have not undermined marriage so far. It is a small fix for a huge problem, but it might help.

在西方国家,劳动阶 层并没有放弃婚姻。相反,许多人以之为理想。有别于过往,人们不 再视婚姻为二人携手同行的开端,而是等 一切就绪之后才去尝试的事情——要有好工作、房子、稳定的收入,还要有 一场盛大的庆典。许多人 就算已为人父母,还觉得自己没“准备好”结婚。好在一 些欧洲国家已经开始向异性恋者提供“民事结合”的选择。(同性恋 伴侣早有这一待遇。)这种做 法赋予伴侣们婚姻中的几乎所有权利,但没有 那么多令人生畏的大张旗鼓。在荷兰,新近正 式结合的伴侣中有五分之一选择了“民事结合”,在一些 劳动阶层聚集区比例更高。目前来看,民事结 合并没有破坏婚姻制度。这只是 个解决重大问题的小小举措,但也许真的会有帮助。




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