Marriage and Millennials: does waiting longer improve marriage?

A recent study done by Demographic Intelligence suggests that marriage rates are lower than they have been in the past century.  Specifically, 6.74 marriages per 1,000 people in the United States.    Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune released the below article offering several considerations as to why this is occurring.    Stevens quotes the president of Demographic Intelligence, Sam Sturgeon, who suggests factors such as “sluggish job opportunities for the less educated and declines in American religion” are part of the reason.

Stevens, citing Northwestern researcher Eli Finkel, offers an alternative theory that, despite the lower statistics, modern marriages are actually becoming stronger and more satisfying than at any point in history.  One argument Finkel offers and Stevens appears to agree with is that individuals are more focused on receiving an education and stabilizing their careers before they get settled into a marriage, whereas earlier in the century many individuals took a “marriage first, everything else second” approach.

Finkel also explores how socioeconomic factors today affect a marriage’s stability.   It appears both authors would agree that individuals who are committed to education and career stability prior to entering marriage will have less financial pressure on their marriage.  While financial pressure can affect those in a variety of income brackets (including high and low earners),  it is no doubt one of the main factors that cause a dissolution of marriage.   Interestingly, Finkel notes that divorce rates have declined since 1980 after doubling between 1960 and 1980.    Could it be that individuals, by stabilizing their careers and finances prior to marriage, are removing one of the main causes of divorce before the relationship even begins?  It certainly will be interesting to see the statistical trends as millennials continue to enter into the “marriage years” between 25 and 40 years old.

Heidi Stevens, “Marriage at a 100-year low- and that’s a good thing” Chicago Tribune, May 18, 2015  http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-marriage-in-decline-balancing-20150518-column.html

Eli Finkel, “The All or Nothing Marriage” New York Times, February 14, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-all-or-nothing-marriage.html

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