Marriages are up; divorces are down


Carol J. Alexander and Howard Dodson are part of a trend.

It’s not nice to carp when things are looking up, but why is it that so many people have a hard time with parallel constructions?

Take this list from the same edition of the Florida Times Union as the wedding story:

â–  SAT scores are up.

â–  Juvenile crime is down.

â–  College enrollment is up.

â–  Drunk driving is down.

â–  Infant mortality has improved.

â–  Traffic deaths are down.

â–  Life expectancy is up.

â–  Workplace injuries are down.

â–  Male-female wage equality has improved.

â–  Air pollution is down.

â–  Divorce is down.

â–  Voter turnout is up.

Is it the vagueness of the categories (“infant mortality” and “male-female wage equality”) which prompts the writer to shift to the passive “has improved”? Or is there some sub-conscious sense that suggests mortality and equality ought not to be judged, so let’s be tangential?