There is no one narrative that explains marriage trends in the U.S. today. Slicing the data by education, age and race reveals a diverse and troubling tale. Writing in the Atlantic, Derek Thompson looks at what’s going on. First, it remains true that just about everyone gets married:
Conventional wisdom and past research has suggested that older men can successfully attract younger women if they have other compensations to offer, namely high income and high social status. A new study turns that evidence on its head:
In direct contrast to conventional wisdom and most economic models of marital age gaps, we present robust evidence that men and women who are married to differently-aged spouses are negatively selected.
Empirical results show striking evidence of lower cognitive ability, lower educational attainment, lower occupational wages, lower earnings, and even less attractive appearance among those married to an older or younger spouse.
Yikes. What’s going on?
There is no marriage strike in the U.S. A recent Gallup poll of over 2,000 respondents indicates that nearly all Americans have married or want to get married. Only 5% have never married and state they do not wish to marry.
Breaking this down by age shows that Millennials are slightly less interested in marriage, but 91% want to get married.
Nine percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 are unmarried and express no interest in marrying, but 56% of this group is unmarried and does want to get married. This high level of interest in marriage suggests there is little widespread attitudinal aversion to first-time marriage among the nation’s younger unmarried residents.
Educated, affluent whites are the most likely to want to marry – an interesting juxtaposition with Lisa Wade’s finding that white, affluent women are the most likely to hook up and eschew relationships. [Read more...]
Hey guys, it’s my first time here. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 9 months now and am a little unsure of whether to continue the relationship. I would really appreciate your opinion (sorry in advance, it’s a bit long!).
We met about 9 months ago at a bar, he was the perfect gentleman and we ended up taking a taxi together after the bar closed – first to my place and then he went to his (at the other end of town). Nothing happened that night but the day after he called me and asked me out. We went on 4 dates before he so much as kissed me and another 3 before we slept together (honestly, I was getting a bit impatient!).
He made the effort early on to introduce me to his friends and family and was very interested in getting to know the people close to me. We’ve pretty much spent every night together since March and a few months ago he bought a flat and asked me to move in with him – mainly because it’s cheaper and handier but he also said that we’d be able to spend more time together. I said yes and moved in a month ago.
In general everything is going great. Although he works a lot he always sets aside time for us to do something together, is very interested in me and my life and the sex is great. He’s very respectful towards me, and towards women in general, and everyone who knows him speaks extremely well of him. He has a large group of very good friends and is close to his family.
Sounds pretty perfect, right? The problem is I’m worried he’s too much of an alpha and to closed off emotionally for the relationship to work long term.
The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia conducted a study exploring men’s feelings about commitment and marriage.
The men in this study express a desire to marry and have children sometime in their lives, but they are in no hurry. They enjoy their single life and they experience few of the traditional pressures from church, employers or the society that once encouraged men to marry. Moreover, the sexual revolution and the trend toward cohabitation offer them some of the benefits of marriage without its obligations. If this trend continues, it will not be good news for the many young women who hope to marry and bear children before they begin to face problems associated with declining fertility.
The top ten reasons why men won’t commit are:
- They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past.
- They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.
- They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.
- They want to wait until they are older to have children.
- They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises.
- They are waiting for the perfect soulmate and she hasn’t yet appeared.
- They face few social pressures to marry.
- They are reluctant to marry a woman who already has children.
- They want to own a house before they get a wife.
- They want to enjoy single life as long as they can.
Let’s focus on reason #2:
They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.