Are Millennials Losing Interest in Marriage?

Millennials appear to be far less interested in many of the primary concerns of older generations — they are not buying into expensive cars (or driving), buying homes, or landline phones. In most cases these preference shifts are reasonable responses to new conditions — millennials see a bleak economic landscape that doesn’t promise much support for future plans, family, and consumption. While not all of them live in their parents’ basements, many are forced to live with roommates or relatives long after earlier generations had started their own households.

It also appears they are less interested in marriage and starting a family. This may also be due to economic uncertainty, but there is also a movement away from marriage by young men who have seen what marriage did to their fathers and their friends in divorce; the risks seem much greater, and so where a previous generation of men might have had some doubts but dismissed them, this generation has grown up with enough examples of loss and pain to be more wary.

The Atlantic has a good piece by Emma Green commenting on the Pew study of marriage preferences:

The future of marriage, the future of Millennials: two topics the Internet loves to freak out about. Thanks to a new report from Pew, here the twain shall meet: Researchers asked people of all ages whether society is better off if people focus on getting married and having kids.

Pew: American Attitudes Toward Marriage and Kids

Pew: American Attitudes Toward Marriage and Kids

Looking at this chart is a little like taking a Rorschach inkblot test on the topic of “American values”: You could see a lot of different things, if you wanted. The most obvious would be Chicken-Little style fears about the coming end of marriage: With just 29 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds affirming the importance of matrimony and maternity, it would be easy to say a quick eulogy for wedding vows. This narrative of decline may be true for certain people in America—those living in poverty, in particular—but for the wealthy and the educated, the institution of marriage is still in very good shape.

You could also read this graph as a manifesto of “not right now”: In 2010, the average marriage age was 26-and-a-half for women and nearly 29 for men. It’s understandable that 22-year-olds might be blasé about the benefits of marriage and kids—and equally understandable that their 65-year-old counterparts are twice as likely to say it’s important. As marriage-shy Millennials age, they might warm to the idea of lifelong commitment.

But again, the data suggests something slightly more complicated: In a 2013 Gallup poll, 75 percent of respondents were either married or said they wanted to be married. This included 84 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds; only nine percent of Millennials in that poll said they never wanted to get hitched. How can both sets of poll findings be true?

It probably has something to do with the curious way the question was worded in the Pew survey, which asked people to choose from the following two statements:

“Society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority.”


“Society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

The second option seems to leave a lot of room for interpretation. If you think it’s okay to want a career plus marriage and kids, you might plausibly end up in that category, even if you think family values are important.

It’s unfortunate that they didn’t also ask the younger cohorts about their personal plans for marriage and family; the question asked is about society, not what they want for themselves. But this is another piece of evidence that Millennials are not planning to be as married as generations before them. Gen-X postponed marriage and children until late, but Millennials may never bother, unless a more dynamic economy starts to convince them they will have the resources.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading on this topic:

Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Modern Feminism, Social Justice Warriors, and the American Ideal of Freedom
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

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