Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Millenials Don't Really Care Less About Marriage, They Just Marry Later

The Pew Research Center has a nifty study of marriage attitudes by generation. To start with, let's compare the marriage facts. Below are the proportion of each of the four most recent generations who were married when they were 18 - 29:

Millennials: 22%
Gen X: 30%
Boomers: 40%
Silents: 50%+

On the attitude side, only 30% of Millennials think making a good marriage is one of the most important things in life. At the same age, 35% of Gen Xers thought that way. (The Pew study doesn't have comparable attitude data for Boomers and Silents.)

Some have read this to mean that Millennials are starting to give up on marriage.
I read this differently.

The average age of marriage has been rising. The average age of first marriage now is 27.5 years for men, and 24.6 years for women. In the mid-'90s, when the Gen Xers were at a similar point in their generational career, the average age of first marriage was two years lower for men and for women.

It seems reasonable to me that married people rate the importance of making a good marriage higher than never-married people do. When we compare the marriage attitudes of 18 - 29 year old Millennials with Gen Xers at the same age, we are comparing a mostly unmarried group with a halfway-married-already group.

I expect that when half the Millenials are married, we will see a comparable rise in their estimate of how important it is to make a good marriage.

1 comment:

CentreRight said...

To follow up on one of your previous posts - Someone identified the demographic "type" for the least happiest person in the US. I'm not sure they'll be able to find such a person though!