Millenials and Marriage: They might marry later, but they still marry

A new poll shows that millennials are delaying marriage until they have accomplished other important milestones, such as home ownership, cohabitation and economic stability.


The poll simultaneously showed that millennials hold marriage as important, but are more likely to delay it until after they accomplished other goals. A senior fellow believes that a large factor in this high view of marriage is the same-sex marriage movement.

"I think it's just that they want the marriages to succeed and therefore are willing to wait until the circumstances are a bit better," said Richard Reeves, a consultant on The American Family Survey and senior fellow in economic studies at Brookings Institution.

The survey, released on Tuesday, found that people aged 18 to 29 were more likely to regard living together before marriage as "very important": 21 percent compared to 16 per cent of respondants 30 to 44 years old, 8 percent of those aged 45 to 64, and 3 percent of those over 65.

It also found they place more importance on finishing college – 60 percent of young adults compared to 50 percent of seniors – and owning a home before marriage; 39 percent, compared to 20 percent of seniors.

"Marriage is still on a pedestal" for millennials, Paul Taylor, co-author with Pew Research Centre of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the New Generation Showdown, told Deseret News.

Rather than the importance of marriage being in question, he believes economic situations are the biggest factor in the delaying of marriage among the generation.

"Significant shares of millennials cannot get from there to here. They have a difficult life economically and find it hard to get started. Many are living at home into their 20s – in some cases, 30s and beyond," he said.

"Marriage is almost like the last thing you do. It's the last box you tick, rather than a way of getting to some of the other boxes," Reeves said.

"Previously it might have been the way to get economic security or a way to find an intimate relationship or whatever. Now, you've done all those things."

Whilst holding marriage as important, "young people emphasise commitment over marital status", according to the survey.

A major factor in the positive view of marriage is the same-sex marriage movement, according to Reeves.

"I'm actually quite struck by the fact that relatively low numbers of millennials view marriage as obsolete. I can't know, of course, but my instinct is that among millennials in particular, the move towards gay marriage has helped to create a more pro-marriage atmosphere that otherwise wouldn't have been the case."

The survey found that 53 percent of young adults believed that the Supreme Court's legalisation of same-sex marriage will have positive effects on marriage, compared to 30 percent of those over 65.