Monday, April 25, 2011

Will Marriage Become A Minority?

Will Fewer Echo Boomers Marry Than Not Marry?

According to a Pew (click Marital Status) study only 21% of Echo Boomers are married as of 2009. I am currently in a 31 day study of counting married Echo Boomers I speak with (right now, the average is at 22% among the ages of 18-31). While marriage, as an institution, will never end, I expect that the United States will experience record low marriage rates among the Millennial generation for a few reasons.

1. If you look at the age group I'm dealing with (18-31), you'll notice that there are 6 years above 25 within that group, and 7 years below 25. Both my current numbers and the Pew study state that only 21% of Echo Boomers are married with my study narrowing the age range. Even if marriage rates tripled among this generation that would only mean that 63-66% of Echo Boomers would be married. That would mean that 37-34% of Echo Boomers would never marry. From the GSS data that I can recall in college, in former generations, about 20-25% of former generations never married. In other words, even if marriage rates triple, the Millennial generation would still possess the most never married group of members in U.S. history.

2. Obviously, Echo Boomers have witnessed divorce more than former generations, and might be reluctant to marry. While I avoid topics like this with customers, I've heard many Echo Boomers express concern about divorce as a reason to avoid marriage. The main reason to avoid marriage that Echo Boomers list, however, is financial concerns, but divorce can quickly change a person's financial standing.

3. The Millennial generation has more single parents than former generations, and this will encumber marriage consideration. Notice that in this study some Echo Boomers have delayed marriage consideration due to the economic conditions. Obviously, finances are a concern for many Echo Boomers, and marrying someone, who already has kids will add to a person's economic stress.

None of this is illogical; obviously children are more expensive in terms of finances and time than some homes are, so avoiding marriage in these situations can alleviate or prevent financial stress. Echo Boomers, unlike their parents, are inheriting a country with a massive amount of debt and a significant amount of economic uncertainty.

Here's what I expect for the future of marriage rates in the United States:

The United States will look more like Europe and Japan in the Millennial generation; low marriage rates and changing economic demand. Remember, this is not a negative economic event! In fact, some successful future companies will succeed by finding products and services that these singles will want. For an example of this, if the United States mirrors Japan, some trends Japan is seeing among its young men may be products that can appeal to these single Echo Boomers in the United States (or a current example in the U.S. already: the fitness industry tends to appeal to single Echo Boomers over married Echo Boomers).

In conclusion, even if marriage becomes a minority among Echo Boomers (a dubious theory for now), we'll see adjustments within our economy. I would expect some media sources (like the Japanese article) to bemoan these changes as bad or harmful to our economy.