Good Question: Why Are Fewer People Getting Married?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new report suggests more and more people will never tie the knot.

Pew Research found a record 20 percent of adults over the age of 25 have never been married. That’s up from nine percent back in 1960.

The authors of the study also predict 25 percent of millennials will never say “I do,” even though about half of them say they’d eventually like to get married.

Another third aren’t sure, and 13 percent say they never want to get hitched.

So, why are fewer people getting married?

When asked on the street, several people gave a variety of answers: fears of a costly divorce, expensive weddings and wanting success in a career before settling down.

“I think people are placing more of an importance on the commitment rather than the legality,” said Andy Gabberts of Minneapolis.

Experts believe part of the reason is economic. As the economy tanked in 2008, people found themselves in more precarious financial positions.

“If they really want to provide for a family, especially men, this marriage thing — it doesn’t look like they’re ready for it,” said Dr. Kirsten Lind Seal, who teaches marriage and family therapy at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

She also believes the structure of the family has changed such that there’s much less stigma when it comes to having children out of wedlock.

When the Pew researchers asked the single people who wanted to get married what was stopping them, the top reason? Men and women can’t find what they’re looking for in a mate.

Seventy-eight percent of women said a steady job was the most important thing in a spouse. In 1960, there were 139 employed single men for every 100 single women. That ratio is now 91:100 as more women have entered the workforce and more men have dropped out.

“The women are not going to make a bet on a guy who doesn’t have a job, and sort of get married and then have to go through a divorce,” Seal said.

About a quarter of respondents said they aren’t financially prepared, and just over 20 percent said they just weren’t ready.

Seal believes people don’t think they’re capable of living up to what they think marriage should be.

“They have this sort of ideal of what needs to happen, what things need to be in place for them in order to be married, and that I think that that stops a lot of people,” she said.

Seal says she doesn’t think marriage is over. Rather, she thinks we’re going through a transition period.

She expects marriage numbers to increase again as the economy gets back on track, and as same-sex marriage becomes legal in more states.

More from Heather Brown
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