My grandmother was 21 when she married. She moved to the snowy mountains with her engineer husband and built a family, a career and a home all before she was 27.
I am 25, have no house, can’t hold down a relationship, and the thought of marriage and children is so far off, taking a rocket to the moon seems slight more plausible prospect for my future (and also more exciting?).
I am not the only one. Millennials aren’t getting married. Maybe we are disheartened, selfish, spoilt for choice, or over-confident. Maybe we don’t want the commitment, maybe we’re enjoying swiping right too much.
The average age for marriage in the U.S. is 27 for women and 29 for men, this is higher when you look at capital cities such as Washington DC and New York. In Australia, the numbers are similar. Between 1990 and 2010, the average age for marriage increased from 24.3 to 27.9 for women, and 26.5 to 29.6 for men.
It seems natural enough for me, as I’m thinking 26.5 is wayyyy too soon for a wedding. But, what’s behind the trend?
Money definitely has something to do with it. Many people (except for a few
lucky hard-working souls) in their 20s are facing exorbitant student debt, possible personal debts, rising house prices, increased cost of living…. all on just-above-entry-level wages due to the competitive job market. (Violins are playing, can’t you hear them?)
Symphonies aside, economic uncertainty does turn people off getting married. The snowball effect likely has something to do with this. Paying for a ceremony is one thing, the fact it’s likely to lead to paying for a mortgage, kids, childcare, etc. is another thing all together. That seems a scary amount of financial commitment for someone currently eating cereal for dinner and toast for lunch in order to pay rent.
“When there’s rough economic times, marriage rates go down,” explains Eric Klinenberg, sociologist and co-author of Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance: An Investigation.” “People don’t feel comfortable committing to someone during hardships.”
Money is probably the number-one thing stopping me from marrying now… Also I’m single…but money!! – Kate, 27.
People my age who are getting married are dropping like at least 50K…and I don’t know where they got it! – Claire 25.
I cannot understand how anyone in their 20s can afford to get married. – Georgie, 24.
I’d also spend that money on an overseas adventure at this stage. – Lana, 26.
Then there’s this truth…
Why do you need money to be married? Just for the ceremony do you mean? – Sam, 23.
We have ‘time’
There’s also the small matter that we believe anything is possible. We are utterly convinced we can ‘have it all’. This relates to career, travel, baby-making. Were not yet ready to settle down because we have the means to take our time. With birth control, abortion and IVF, pregnancy can be planned. And we’re using this to buy time to do the things we love.