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John Locher / AP

The decline in marriage rates among less-educated Americans has been a trend of concern for both the left and the right in recent years. Progressives have generally seen these data as the result of a lack of economic opportunity, while conservative thinkers have argued the reverse: that economic inequality is being driven by a decline in cultural affinity for the institution of marriage.

A new study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research argues against the first interpretation, showing that between 1997 and 2012, areas that experienced fracking booms — and therefore increased wages and economic opportunity for the less-educated — experienced a spike in birth but not marriage rates.

Why it matters: Though there is some evidence that falling working-class marriage rates were in part caused by shrinking economic opportunity, these results poke a hole in notion that better job opportunities will lead to more marriage.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
6 mins ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

New hope for "smart cities"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's time to polish our gleaming vision of urban environments where internet technology makes everything from finding a parking space to measuring air quality a snap.

Why it matters: The Biden administration's Cabinet appointees are likely to be champions of bold futurism in urban planning — which could mean that smart infrastructure projects, like broadband deployment and digital city services, get fresh funding and momentum.

4 hours ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.