Marriage Trends

PREPARE/ENRICH, the premarital counseling program I use with couples I marry recently released some interesting trends regarding marriage.  I share some of them with you.

"A recent New York Times article highlighted new research regarding who is, and isn't getting married.  In 1990, over 50% of U.S. adults aged 18-55 were married regardless of income and education.

Over the past 25 years, a sharp class distinction has emerged, with only 26% of poor adults and 39% of working class adults being married, while 56% of middle-and upper-class adults married."

"Marriage is being delayed.

After the median age of first marriage bottomed out in the mid- 1950's at 22 for men and 20 for women, it has steadily increased since then to 30 for men and 28 for women in 2016.  The median age for first marriage for both men and women increased by nearly a year between 2012-2016."

"College-educated young adults are delaying marriage, parenthood, and to a lesser degree, cohabitation.  However, among young adults with less than 4 years of college, rates of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed.

Among 28-34 year-olds with less than a high school degree, two thirds are 'baby first' (having at least one child out-of-wedlock) and 18% are 'marriage first,' with 15% childless and unmarried.  Contrast this with college-educated adults in the same age group, of which only 9% are 'baby first,' 55% are 'marriage first' and 36% are childless and unmarried.

More college-educated young adults are seeing marriage as a 'capstone' of adulthood instead of the 'cornerstone' it was seen as in previous generations.  In this paradigm, milestones like starting a career, paying off student loans and buying a house are seen as prerequisites of marriage, and marriage is generally seen as a prerequisite to having children.  As such, 78% of college-educated Millennials are on track to follow the 'success sequence' of obtaining education, a job and a spouse prior to having children."


2903 Nacogdoches Rd.     San Antonio, TX 78217    phone: 210-824-7135  fax: 210-826-5146