For Love or Money?

The Economic Consequences of Delayed Marriage It has been well documented that over the last few decades we have seen a substantial increase in the median age of marriage in the United States. In fact, we are currently at all-time historic highs in these trends.  According to the Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census, the median age of marriage right now is nearly 29 years of age for men and 27 years of age for women.[1] Given the trajectory of this trend over the last several years, we are quickly approaching a time in our culture where half of marriages will occur for individuals after the age of 30, quite different from what we have seen in previous generations. It is generally assumed by many that this delay of marriage is a positive trend and that later marriage provides more time for maturation and preparation—especially in regards to economic or career readiness. For these reasons, delayed marriage is actively promoted by parents and others. However, some emerging evidence may challenge this assumption. Particularly when we consider patterns of family formation, family stability, and child well-being, there appear to be some significant tradeoffs associated with the delay of marriage. These trade-offs are significant enough, in fact, that the path many young adults are pursuing in an effort to be better prepared for lasting marriage and to have a successful family life is actually producing the opposite of what they intend.  Three Key Misunderstandings Three key misunderstandings are leading to our societal miscalculation of the full implications of delayed marriage, particularly delayed marriage into the 30s. First, we tend to be interpreting this trend only through the experience of the college-educated. If we broaden out and look at the full social-economic spectrum, we start to see some very different patterns related to the delay of marriage. It is important to remember that those who are not college-educated make up the vast
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