The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestones we meet. Career advancement, marriage, and kids are all considered, and as millennial women get older and they make more of those big life decisions, it's easier to compare those choices to similar ones made by Generation X — the generation before millennials. Analysts consider questions of when and how those choices are made between generations, like for instance, are millennial women getting married earlier than Gen X women? It actually seems like the opposite may be true, according to the data.
Millennials are on track to have the lowest rates of marriage by age 40 compared to any previous generation, according to CNN Money. In 2014, the Urban Institute found that if current marriage rates continue, and therefore if more than 30 percent of United States millennial women remain unmarried by age 40, their numbers will be nearly twice those of their Gen X counterparts. So millennial women are not getting married earlier than Gen X, according to that data, and more of us won't be getting married by age 40 at all if the current pace continues.
By March 2014, only 26 percent of 18-to-33-year-olds were married, according to The Huffington Post. And a good number of those people are likely millennial women. The Pew Research Center declared in a report that month that millennials are "in no rush to marry," when compared to previous generations such as Gen X and the Baby Boomers — in fact, 36 percent of Gen X and 48 percent of Baby Boomers were married during that same 18-to-33 age range, The Huffington Post noted.
So why are millennial women getting married at lower rates? There are likely several reasons millennials and millennial women specifically are putting off getting married or not doing it at all, and there's no one reason to blame, according to experts.
The importance of marriage has been decreasing for some time, for starters. More Americans are living together and even raising families without getting married, according to Neil Howe, an economist and author of several books about millennials who spoke with CNN Money. Plus, marriage rates fell during the Great Recession, when young people had a difficult time finding first jobs and establishing their careers before moving on to other milestones like marriage. Years later, women might still be feeling the effects of the recession.
The low millennial marriage rate might also have to do with couples more openly living together before getting hitched — an act that was previously incredibly stigmatized as the result of religious custom. It's also more acceptable to be single at an older age, The Huffington Post reported, citing information from the National Bureau of Economic Research. So there's less of a "rush" to get married compared to older generations, including Generation X.
But it's not all good news. Six in 10 millennials say they are going through a “quarter-life” crisis, according to a new study of British millennials reported on by The Independent, and some of the respondents' worries included relationship woes. In a study of 2,000 Brits, financial difficulties were the biggest single cause of this "crisis," but 25 percent of respondents said they are having trouble finding the "right relationship," too.
It might be OK that millennials and millennial women in particular are holding off on marriage, though, even if it's frustrating to not just be married already, if you want to be, earlier on in life. Waiting until you're in a more stable financial and emotional position to get married, afford a wedding, and start a family isn't really a bad idea, after all.
And when they do get married, millennials kind of rock it. For instance, studies have shown that millennials are more open to interracial and interfaith marriage, according to Business Insider. Millennials are also the most educated generation ever, Axios reported, and it's probably a good thing for millennial women that we have the potential to be more equal in educational and professional standing to our partners than in generations past.
Women don't have to be married to men in order to do things like own property or open a line of credit anymore, the way women in past generations did. Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, American women couldn't apply for credit, according to Ms. magazine. Back then, wives had to rely on their husbands for credit cards — not so for millennial women today.
It was also harder before 1969 for women to get a divorce if their marriage wasn't working out, Ms. noted. Interestingly enough, however, divorce rates have been in decline since the 1990s, and the fact that millennials are waiting longer to get married may be linked to those numbers, according to Insider.
So yes, millennial women might be a little behind Generation X ladies when it comes to getting married. Millennials as a whole don't seem to get married early, and certainly not earlier than Gen X. But they still have a lot going for them, and since women in the U.S. can generally expect to live for over 80 years, millennial women really have plenty of time to get to the altar, if that's even something they want for themselves.
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