The percentage of married people in the US has fallen in the last 50 years. Currently, there are more unmarried adults than there are married adults in the United States. In other instances, people are waiting until later in life to make the leap into marriage. The decline in marriage rates is happening across all races, ages, and religious communities. There are numerous reasons for the decline such as the cost of weddings, changing lifestyles, high rates of divorce, and changing priorities. The ten states with the lowest rates of marriage in the US are Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Michigan.
Factors That Influence Marriage Rates
Level of Education
In today’s world, more people are taking up higher education and spending more time studying when compared to previous years. As a result, an increasing number of young adults are marrying at a later age compared to young adults in the 60s and 70s. In the 60s and 70s young people in the US got married at an early age with men marrying at the average age of 23 years and women 21 years. Additionally, researchers have observed that people who have a college diploma and above are more likely to be married as opposed to people without a college diploma.
The level of income is a key factor in determining the rate of marriage in society. Given how expensive weddings have become, people with low-income levels may shy away from marriage and opt to cohabit or live without a partner altogether. People whose average income is high record higher rate of marriage compared to low-income individuals.
The average age of a society plays an essential part in the rate of marriage in the community. In the past, people as young as 16 years got married. There were no age restrictions at the time. In those days, a lot more marriages were recorded in the younger age brackets. Currently, the legal age for marriage in most states is 18 years. Most adults wait until they are much older than 18 to marry, however.
The family background plays a role in determining marriage rate. People raised in stable families where the parents are happily married are more likely to marry compared to people raised in broken families. A society with high rates of divorce leads to less appeal for marriage in the future.
Religious and Cultural beliefs
Religious beliefs and cultural values significantly influence the rate of marriage in society. Some religions and cultures encourage people to marry young and put restrictions on other unions such as cohabiting. Societies that share these strong beliefs have higher percentages of married couples compared to other societies that do not share those values.
Cohabiting occurs when two individuals live together as partners without the legal commitments of marriage. The number of people who cohabit has risen sharply in the past few years. Although this type of living was shunned in the past, more people have embraced the new trend. Individuals prefer to cohabit because there are no legal ties and it is cheaper, and consequently, fewer people are getting into marriage.
Empowerment of Women
The roles of men and women in families have significantly changed in the past 50 years. In the ’60s, men were expected to provide for the family while women stayed at home and raised children. After the feminist movement of the 1960s, women became empowered and demanded equality with men. As a result, more women were empowered to work and provide for their families. The changing roles made it easy for people to walk out of unhappy marriages and therefore resulted in a decline in the number of married couples.
Costly Wedding Expenses
Weddings have increasingly become very costly. The average cost of a wedding in the US is over 30,000 dollars. Such expenses hinder most people with low incomes from marrying.
Higher Levels of Education
More people are taking up further education unlike in the past. This means people stay in school for longer than they did in the 20th century. As a result, young adults marry at a later age leading to a decline in the number of marriages among people in their early twenties.
Child Support Laws
Most US states have adopted strict laws on child support. It means that regardless of the marital status of the parents, a child’s interest is protected by law. Due to the assurance provided in law, people are not pressured to enter into marriage to secure their children’s interest. As a result, there are fewer marriages formed by economic support.