It feels like all of my Facebook friends are getting hitched. Almost every time I log in there’s a new heart icon staring me in the face, proudly declaring a couple’s intent to wed. So I was surprised to hear the news that the number of people saying “I do” is drastically declining; only 51 percent of US adults are currently married. It seems the institution that once defined stereotypical American life may soon become a choice of the minority.
According to the Pew Research Center, marriage dropped 5 percent in 2010. Like many other declining statistics, this number can be attributed to the failing economy. Weddings are expensive, and most couples are probably more concerned with paying the rent than tying the knot. And with cohabitation more socially acceptable, they may as well skip buying the cow and stick to getting free milk. It also seems that people of all ages, not just the expected young couples, feel this way. According to NPR, “half a century ago, nearly 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were married. Today, it’s just 20 percent. But the Pew report finds fewer married people across all age groups.”
While these numbers can be attributed to lifestyles like single motherhood (40 percent of US births are to unmarried women!), most people, especially college-educated ones, are getting hitched at later ages. This means that while marriage rates may be declining, the institution probably isn’t disappearing; it’s likely just being delayed. And ladies, for every year you delay putting a ring on it, you reduce your chances of divorce! [via NPR]
Kate Bolick recently wrote an intriguing article about about how, “it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family — and to acknowledge the end of ‘traditional’ marriage as society’s highest ideal.” She has a point; now that women are able to be self-sufficient in the job market, there’s no way that the past ideal of a nuclear family (and how it should function) can be maintained. Instead of focusing on how to preserve the traditional institution of marriage, society should instead focus on how to adapt our notions of it to ensure plenty of future wedded bliss.
What do you think of the marriage decline? Do you intend on getting married someday?