A report published by the BGSU National Center for Family & Marriage Research showed that the U.S. marriage rate is on the increase. Specifically, Americans saw 32.3 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women age 15 or older last year, versus 31.9 in 2014. Divorce, on the other hand, dropped to a rate of 16.9, down from 17.6 in 2014.
It’s a lot to get your head around. You might think that the broader cultural acceptability of different sexualities would make people feel less pressure to be a part of the traditional marriage structure. Conversely, the uptick in marriage could also be attributed to the landmark Supreme Court ruling last year. The allowance of a broader definition of marriage would inevitably lead to more marriages.
Compared to older generations, millenials are far more cautious in this area, getting married older than their parents. That extra caution could mean less divorce. Young people these days also live with their parents far more than in the previous 130 years. This, too, could be a factor: Nothing dampens matrimonial desire quite like waking your parents when the headboard hits the wall.
The recent economic downturn could also explain both the recent marriage uptick and the divorce drop. As rents skyrocket and the country climbs back from the recession, millenials may be getting married so they can afford housing. For the same reason, the lack of economic prosperity over the past 20 years could attest to a part of the more historic decline. When baby boomers got married, they rode the wave of post-war wealth and domestic stability. (Think white picket fences and Pleasantville.) Most millenials came of age too late for the 1990s wealth boom during the dawn of the internet.
When comparing the baby boomer marriage rate to that of millenials, it might help to envision the younger generation living in a post-sex society. With attitudes about pre-marital sex shifting rapidly over the past 40 years, many young people don’t feel the need to get married to be able to have sex. I mean, imagine being 20 and thinking every lustful desire must mean you have to marry someone! Sheesh! Our parents lived through that so we all didn’t have to.