Graduate, land a job, get married, buy a
house, a car, and then start popping out kids. It’s the American dream. Or, at
least, it was. Personal goals and values have changed. Today young people are
staying in school longer, leasing and renting more often and, perhaps most
poignantly, fewer and fewer are getting married.
Are declining and delayed marriage rates a cause for alarm? Or do Millennials simply have different, equally valuable, attitudes than generations of the past?
Modern Millennial Marriage Rates
There are fewer and fewer Millennials getting married and those who are are doing so later and later. The median age of the Average Millennial marriage 29 for men and 27 for women. This is up about 7 years since the 1960s and may be slowly climbing.
Moreover, the number of Millennials who remain unmarried throughout their life is expected to rise to around 30%. That is up by 10-20% from past generations. Not only that, but
Why Is Marriage On The Decline?
There are a variety of reasons why Marriage is losing ground in the U.S. Here are just a few.
Over the past seventy years, American’s understanding of what matters has changed dramatically. Whereas in past generations the vast majority of people felt society was better off if children and raising a family were the focus, today a whopping 67% do not necessarily think that is the case, saying it is okay if other priorities take precedent. This shows a seismic sociological shift that has shaken the American psyche and made moved us further away from the collectivist ideology and closer to the individualistic one.
While Millennials still value family, they generally have a broader view about what matters in life than past generations. The decision not to get married or have kids is not considered “selfish” in the same way as it used to be.
Some Millennials, on the other hand, are avoiding marriage for more pragmatic reasons. Namely, financial instability. It is no secret young people today are less wealthy than past generations and many of them, around 25%, cite that as a reason for their delaying marriage. It is likely these people fall into the delayed-marriage category rather than the never-married.
The Changing Role Of Women
Women having more opportunity and better education today has significantly contributed to decreasing marriage rates. Whereas many women in the past needed security and so pushed their partners toward marriage, that is no longer the case. Today marriage is not the sole source of financial security for women, they can have jobs/careers of their own and don’t necessarily have to rely on men for support.
Divorce has had a big impact on Millennials. If you don’t believe me, just watch any 90s coming-of-age movie and you’ll see, Millennials have been deeply affected by the divorce of their parents. Some of them have responded to this hurt by refusing to continue the vicious circle of marriage and divorce. While this cause may technically be rational, it really is not a very good reason not to get married. If you can’t find the right person, or you don’t want to for financial/philosophical or other reasons, fine. But to avoid the game altogether simply because of a fear of failure, that way lies misery.
Why Are Millennials Delaying Getting Married?
Millennials are not necessarily worse at relationships than other generations. They simply have more options. Many, for example, are living together and dating exclusively, they just aren’t married. Cohabitation is more acceptable today than ever before and there is nothing wrong with more freedom.
Marriage is a mixed bag with both its good and bad sides, and just as older generations should be slow to condemn Millennials, Millennials should be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater.