Thursday, March 24, 2011

Will Low Marriage Rates Sap Future Housing Demand?

As an Echo Boomer, I often hear from adults that the lack of interest in marriage among Echo Boomers will suppress housing demand. In fact, a recent study has been used by some adults as evidence that Echo Boomers will have low marriage rates, and thus a low demand for housing.

First, I've written about the housing recovery and will write more in the future with pertinent economic data. Frankly, marriage rates of Echo Boomers are far less of a concern than the Millennial financial data. This is not a generation that looks prepared to own homes.

Second, female Echo Boomers that are unable or disinterested in finding partners tend to express interest in owning a home later in life regardless of their marital status. Male Echo Boomers, by contrast, do seem satisfied with renting. My point here is that even if all Echo Boomers stayed single (already untrue), and most female Echo Boomers bought homes and most male Echo Boomers rented, you'd still end up with similar numbers for housing demand in the future.

Third, marriage doesn't equate to home ownership. Although married Echo Boomers I speak with tend to mention interest in owning homes, a few single Echo Boomers have already achieved home ownership. The assumption that marriage means responsibility may only be true for former generations. Echo Boomers may see marriage as an irresponsible decision due to potential emotional and financial problems pertinent only to marriage.

I am not writing here that marriage is irresponsible, but that the cultural view of marriage, in the past assumed to be responsible by default, may be changing among Echo Boomers.

Fourth, as one who studied and worked for a degree in social science in college, society goes through social changes on a regular basis. Even if housing demand were to drop due to a lack of marriage, other parts of the economy would pick up because single individuals would need other services. In other words, we may see fewer dollars go toward housing and enter newer markets for singles.