Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

Baby boomers are divorcing for surprisingly old-fashioned reasons – Jocelyn Elise Crowley

Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

At first, Kathy, 53 years old, spoke to me calmly, but as the minutes ticked away, her voice started to crack. Her husband had a long-standing problem with alcohol. The couple, married for more than 25 years, had one son, and tried to keep the marriage together by seeing a therapist.

But there came a decisive moment when she could no longer keep the relationship going. She told me: I discovered a hotel receipt and went and counselled with our priest at that point.

[The hotel receipt] was for the Oriental Fantasy suite at [this hotel] at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday morning and I’m quite certain I wasn’t there at the time.’ At that point, she knew that her marriage was over.

Kathy experienced a mid-life or what is also known as a ‘grey divorce’. A grey divorce is simply a divorce that occurs at or after the age of 50. Even though the divorce rate across all age groups has stabilised, the number of grey divorces in the United States has recently dramatically increased. Currently, about one every four divorces is grey.

What has caused this dramatic surge in grey divorces? First has simply been the ageing of the Baby Boomer generation. In 1990, there were only 63.5 million Americans aged 50 and older, but by 2010, there were 99 million in this same age group.

By 2050, the US Census Bureau predicts that there will be 158.5 million individuals aged 50 and over. In addition to the growth in absolute numbers of such individuals, life expectancy has mostly continued to tick upwards.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1950, men could be expected to live, on average, 65.6 years, while women could be expected to live 71.1 years, on average. By 2016, these ages had increased to 76.1 and 81.1, respectively.

Both of these factors have worked to expose ever-greater numbers of couples to the possibility of a grey divorce.

But perhaps the most interesting part of this story is why these Baby Boomers are divorcing at this point in their lives, and whether men and women offer different explanations for going their own ways. In the course of this research project I interviewed 40 men and 40 women – none related to one another – about the causes of their grey divorces. What I found was fascinating.

The basis for heterosexual marriage in the US has changed dramatically over the past century.

Scholars have noted that, beginning in the 20th century, couples were bound together by love, but also by a set of mutually binding responsibilities toward one another.

In its current form, divorce under this marital framework typically involves partners engaging in behaviours that harm themselves or their spouses. In these ways, they violate their vows of binding responsibilities, and divorce is therefore acceptable.

The social unrest of the 1960s, however, brought a different set of expectations into some marriages.

The Baby Boomers who came of age during this period began to see their own personal self-actualisation as the most important goal in their lives.

Marriages soon became sites of self-empowerment and self-development for many couples. If at any point in time, one partner in a marriage was no longer fulfilled, that person could reasonably seek a divorce.

For the Baby Boomers I interviewed who grew up during the 1960s, one might guess that most divorces would happen because they were no longer personally fulfilled, but that was generally not the case.

While some men and women identified growing apart in interests as the central reason for their split, all of the others, surprisingly, pointed to reasons related to violations of binding responsibilities that they felt were the key foundations of a healthy marriage.

For example, for men and women such as Kathy, physical infidelity proved damning for their relationships. Men and women were also similar in pointing to their partners’ mental-health problems as causing their divorces.

But also interestingly, this is where the similarities ended for men and women. Men complained a lot about money-management problems. Frank, 56 years old and married for 22 years, began to notice that his wife was developing an attitude toward money which disturbed him.

He observed: ‘I think as time went on, she had a greater interest in not working any more, or not working and kind of living the lifestyle that some of her friends were interested [in living].’ Adding on to this stress was her excessive credit-card spending.

When she refused to stop charging, Frank would put limits on the cards, but then she would just move on to some other way to spend money. Frank finally decided that he ‘just couldn’t live that any more’, and moved toward a divorce.

Men also discussed resentment over how their children had been raised, even years after they had left the family home.

In Terry’s case, he and his wife, who had been married for 27 years, had completely divergent philosophies over how to discipline their two sons when they were younger.

At 59 years old, Terry stated: ‘I wanted to instil a strong sense of responsibility and deferred gratifications, and she was almost in the polar opposite direction.’ Over time, these differences led to more arguments that finally resulted in a divorce.

In contrast, women tended to blame their husbands’ addictions to alcohol, drugs and pornography. In multiple cases, they tried to help their husbands seek out effective help but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Susan, 63 years old and married for 39 years, became increasingly embarrassed by her husband’s bouts with alcohol. She seethed: ‘I mean, he was a horrible drunk.’ Worse, he blamed her for his addiction.

One evening after coming home from work, Susan saw that ‘he was so drunk [that] he was stumbling and falling and something snapped [in me].’ For her, that was the turning point, and the marriage was over.

Women also charged that they were the victims of emotional or verbal abuse. In these situations, they frequently endured years of this treatment – desperately hoping for change – before finally pulling the plug on their marriages. Margaret, 56 years old and married for 25 years, worked in the same restaurant business as her husband.

He did not enjoy the responsibility of the daily grind and reacted by constantly screaming at her. She finally concluded: ‘It’s , you know what? I’m tired of this. I can’t do this anymore. It’s , I’ve ruined his life. That was a common verbiage of his, and I finally decided that I guess I [had] to give [him his] life back.

’ She did so by divorcing him.

Overall, then, the motivations behind those seeking a grey divorce do not have a lot to do with couples simply wanting to spread their wings because they are no longer fulfilled, or ‘hippies gone wild’.

Instead, this mid-life population takes splitting up very seriously and, more often than not, considers whether their promised binding responsibilities to each other have been violated when they file for divorce.

And as their numbers continue to climb upward, soon we will all be saying to those seeking a divorce after 50: we know why you did it; welcome to the club.


Baby Boomers Answer

Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

Four of my friends all past the age of forty share their answers to the question they are forced to ask themselves quite often: Why did I not get married? Although they belong to the baby boomer generation (born 1946-64), their reasons are not rooted in the popular desire for satisfaction and enjoyment, qualities that characterize this generation.

Compare their reasons with the three top reasons given by millennials (born generally around the early 1980s to the early 2000s). It becomes obvious that young people are losing their attachment to marriage as a goal to be achieved. They have other interests, and think nothing of embracing their singleness while they pursue them.

  1. Fear
  2. Naivety
  3. Asexuality
  4. Different Faiths

“Baby Chicken” by Fir0002. Text added. | Source

Sara is an attractive, fashionable, high-strung go-getter. “I’ve had special friendships with men who seemed good prospects for marriage, but there was always something factual or imaginary that scared me away. I called it caution, but looking back I think it was fear.

My parents were divorced, as were ninety percent of my relatives. I saw the women fending for themselves and doing it successfully. In the back of my mind I harbored the notion that it would be easier to skip the marriage and divorce and just concentrate on looking after myself. Perhaps marriage would have worked for me, but I gave up on the idea, and became content with being single.

I'm not looking but if I meet someone who makes me feel more comfortable than afraid, I'd think about it. What a shame it would be for me to have marriage problems now after being single and content for so long.”

“The Bridesmaids” by Ronnie Macdonald | Source

Joslyn is a retired educator, recognized by her peers for her outstanding contribution to her field. She seems happy all the time, but she thinks that she and her sister share the same predicament.

“We do not know how to receive affection. I still admire the one man I ever loved (he married someone else). I know that he loved me. He was everything I wanted in a husband.

When he told me that he loved me, I smiled and walked away, unable to tell him that I loved him too.

Whenever he tried to get physically close or his conversation became too intimate, I interrupted the mood or found a reason to leave. He never came after me and eventually he gave up.

I discouraged attention from other men, because I knew that there would be no happy ending. Love was never expressed in our childhood home and we never learned how. I watch my younger sister avoid men the same way I do.”

Jim is a tall, handsome, salesman with a magnetic personality and a track record of award-winning performances. “I’ve been a salesman before I even graduated high school. Everyone said that I was a natural, and I believed them. Even when my company promoted me to a managerial desk, I scheduled field days for myself.

I love one-on-one contact with people, but I have never had a strong desire for physical closeness with anyone. Whatever I think I feel doesn’t last.

I love to be in the company of beautiful women—I’m referring to inner as well as outer beauty. I hug and squeeze as much as the next guy, but only in a caring and comforting manner.

Several people call me their best friend, and I feel blessed to have people think of me that way.”

Right after high school, Stephanie fell in love with a young man who did not meet her parents’ approval. They were strictly religious; he did not even attend church. Stephanie was drawn to her boyfriend’s persistence.

“He continually expressed his love for me. I thought that by becoming pregnant, I could pressure my parents into allowing us to get married. They never gave in, and my baby’s daddy deserted me. I have not loved anyone else as much as I loved him. I am in my forties now, and still looking for love.

I am determined to find someone on the same religious path; but so far, it seems that all the men I meet who share my religious beliefs are taken. I am not comfortable with online dating.”

Three reasons for not getting married given by millennials. (Pew Research Center 2014)

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of never-married people is increasing in all age groups. In the 40-44 age group 4.9% of males and 6.3% of females were never married in 1970. Males were leading in 1999 and by 2010 there were 20.4% of males and 13.8% of females who never married.

The 2014 Pew Research Poll shows that still fewer young people in the Millenials age group are getting married.There are still more unmarried females than males.

However, the reports suggests to those women who might be holding back until they find husbands with financial stability, there are divorced, widowed or older men who qualify.

No need to rush those who are simply not ready and those who are still looking.

Still, consider that marriage is not compulsory for anyone, and unmarried people are not automatically deficient because they are unmarried. In every community there are married, single, single-again and never married people who give us an opportunity to enrich our lives–and theirs–by our association with them. Some singles have valuable lessons to teach about contentment.


How marriage has changed from baby boomers to millennials

Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

Millennials are doing marriage differently than their parents and grandparents. They're often lambasted for “killing” industries or struggling to “adult,” but they're also more accepting of interfaith and interracial relationships, are striving for more egalitarian housekeeping and parenting roles, and are getting divorced at a lower rate than baby boomers.

A recent study published in the journal American Sociological Review looked at how couples met between 1940 and 2010. It surveyed more than 3,000 American adults.

INSIDER Data analysed US Census Bureau data and found that the average age of men and women at their first marriage has increased over time.

In 1940, the average age of men at their first marriage was 24.3, and the average age of women was 21.5. From 1950 until the late 1970s, the average ages of men and women dipped to 23 and 20, respectively.

But since the 1980s, the average ages of first weddings have been increasing. For men, the average age has climbed from 25 in the late '80s to 29.8 in 2018. For women, the average age went from 23 to 27.8.

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 20% of Americans ages 18 to 30 are married, compared to 32% of Gen X-ers and 40% of baby boomers when they were the same age.

When baby boomers were getting married for the first time, there were laws in place dictating who they were and weren't allowed to marry that have since been disbanded. In 1967, the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia struck down states' antimiscegenation laws as unconstitutional.

The Pew Research Center found in 2010 that millennials are “significantly more ly to be accepting of interracial marriage” than older age groups.

They found that 73% of 30 to 49 year olds, 55% of 50 to 64 year olds, and just 38% of those ages 65 and older say they would be fine with a family member's marriage to someone of another race or ethnicity.

For millennials (18 to 29 year olds), that number is more 90%.

Same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states in 2015 with the Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

Public support for same-sex marriage has also grown over the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2007, most Americans (54%) opposed same-sex marriage. Ten years later, in 2017, more Americans supported it (62%) than opposed it (32%).

Interfaith marriage is more accepted among millennials

Nearly four in 10 Americans (39%) who have been married since 2010 are married to someone of a different faith, according to Pew Research's Religious Landscape Study. That number is even higher among unmarried people living with a romantic partner, with nearly half of them (49%) living with a partner in a different religious group.

Only 19% of Americans who married before 1960 are married to someone of a different faith.

The average cost of weddings is on the rise

The Knot began tracking the cost of weddings in 2006, when the average price tag was $US27,852. CNN reported that figure had been a nearly 100% increase from 1990.

In 2017, The Knot reported that the average wedding cost had risen to $US31,213.

According to a survey conducted on behalf of Best Buy, and highlighted in Glamour in 2015, 70% of newlyweds say their weddings were more elaborate than their parents'.

The divorce rate has decreased over time

INSIDER Data sourced figures from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and found that the divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the mid-1980s. In 2017, the rate reached 2.9 divorces per 1,000 Americans with only 787,251 divorces total – the lowest it's been since 1968.

Data scientist Randal S. Olson writes that the only major spike in the divorce rate was after World War II, probably because of “pre-WWII marriages coming to an abrupt end once the romance of wartime marriage wore off.”

INSIDER's Kim Renfro reported that some sociologists say there could be a link between declining divorce rates and more people deciding to live together before marriage.

Millennials are having fewer kids than baby boomers and are waiting longer to have them

In 2016, there were about 60 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 – the lowest rate since the US started tracking birth rates in 1909, according to LiveScience.

A mother's age at the birth of her first child has been steadily increasing for decades. According to data from the Centres for Disease Control, in 1980, it was 22.7. In 2013, it was 26.

Experts think there are several reasons for the decline including economic factors such as rising education costs and the 2008 recession, better sex education, and women choosing to focus on their careers and start families later in life.

Millennial men are more ly to help with housework and child care, but women still do most of it

As gender roles shift and women focus more on their careers before having children, millennial men are also shifting to take on more housekeeping and parenting responsibilities – or, at least, they're trying to.

“The majority of young men and women say they would ideally to equally share earning and care giving with their spouse,” Sarah Thébaud, a sociologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told The New York Times. “But it's pretty clear that we don't have the kinds of policies and flexible work options that really facilitate egalitarian relationships.”


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Gallup Analysis: Millennials, Marriage and Family

Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

  • 59% of millennials are single and have never been married
  • 60% of millennials do not have any children under 18 in their household

PRINCETON, N.J. — There are roughly 73 million millennials in the U.S.

— those born between 1980 and 1996 — and to marketers, these consumers represent a huge economic opportunity. To some, millennials are hyperconnected and technology-savvy social media mavens.

To others, millennials are the new generation of highly indebted narcissists forever credited with coining the term “selfie.”

Marketers and business leaders have a keen interest in understanding how members of the millennial generation — now the largest generation after eclipsing the baby boomers — differ from members of other generations. Understanding millennials' attitudes, preferences and behaviors is critical because they have significant implications for many aspects of U.S. social and economic life.

The Gallup Daily tracking survey reveals that members of the millennials do in fact differ from other generations in some important ways — ways that millennials' relative youth alone does not explain.

We would expect young people to differ from those who are older, as they always have, just as we would expect seniors to differ from those who are younger.

These differences that the data reveal represent a departure from the patterns of older generations at the same points in their lives.

Large sample sizes — approximately 175,000 per year — allow Gallup to examine extensive demographic breaks and crosstabulations of the daily measures. The 2014 Gallup Daily tracking data are one of the only sources to capture views of the entire span of the millennial generation, because the last of the millennials turned 18 in 2014.

Marital Status, by Generation

Millennials% Gen Xers% Baby boomers% Traditionalists% TOTAL% Single/Never married Married Separated Divorced Widowed Domestic partnership/ Living with partner
59 16 10 4 25
27 62 65 55 52
2 4 3 1 2
3 11 14 9 9
* 1 6 29 6
9 6 3 1 5
* Less than 0.5%
Gallup U.S. Daily tracking, Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2014

Millennials Are in No Rush to Marry

Contrary to what we would expect, given normal demographic patterns of adolescents' movement into early adulthood and family formation, the data show that significantly more millennials are currently single/never married than was true for those in older generations, and considerably more are in domestic partnerships. Specifically, more than half of all millennials (59%) have never married, and 9% are in domestic partnerships. Gallup has noted a trend toward fewer young adults being married in recent years.

In the 2014 Gallup Daily tracking data, just 27% of millennials were married. According to historical U.S.

Census Bureau data, 36% of Generation Xers, 48% of baby boomers and 65% of traditionalists were married when they were the age that millennials are now.

For millennials currently aged 18 to 30, just 20% are married, compared with nearly 60% of 18- to 30-year-olds in 1962, according to the U.S. Census. When Gen Xers were the same age, 32% were married; for baby boomers, it was more than 40%.

Millennials are clearly delaying marriage longer than any generation before them, in spite of evidence suggesting that many millennials intend to marry at some point. For example, a 2013 Gallup poll found that 86% of single/never married Americans aged 18 to 34 (roughly equivalent to the millennial generation) wanted to get married someday.

The percentage of single-adult households for millennials (18%) is no different from that of Gen Xers (16%) or baby boomers (19%), while the percentage of single-adult traditionalist households (31%) is larger for obvious mortality reasons.

The percentage of current two-adult millennial households (46%) is significantly lower than that of Gen Xers (57%), baby boomers (52%) or traditionalists (55%).

Significantly more millennials are currently in multi-adult households of three or more (36%) than is true for any other generation, suggesting that these reflect some form of communal living arrangement (77% of millennials in multi-adult households of three or more are single/never married, while 12% are married).

Adults Aged 18 or Older in Household, by Generation

Millennials% Gen Xers% Baby boomers% Traditionalists% TOTAL% One Two Three or more
18 16 19 31 20
46 57 52 55 52
36 27 29 14 28
Gallup U.S. Daily tracking, Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2014

Millennials Are Intent on Having Children

The key point, however, is this: There doesn't appear to be any evidence that millennials — both married and single/never married — are putting off having children.

Even among the small percentage (2%) of married 18-year-old millennials, less than half (44%) have no children, and the percentage decreases with age to just 17% at age 34. And while few single 18-year-old millennials have children (4%), that percentage rises to almost half by age 34.

In other words, almost half of the oldest millennials who have never married nonetheless have children. In 2000, the comparable number for Gen Xers aged 30 to 34 was just 30%.

In fact, public perceptions of the moral acceptability of having children wedlock have increased dramatically over the past decade and a half.

Gallup poll data show that the percentage who say this is morally acceptable currently stands at an all-time high (62% overall and 68% among millennials).

As recently as 2002, just 45% overall said it was morally acceptable to have a child wedlock, while 50% said it was morally wrong.

In a 2013 Gallup poll, 87% of adults between 18 and 40 who did not yet have children said they wanted them someday. The current data suggest that for millennials, “having children someday” does not necessarily depend on being married.

But when combined with the observation that the substantial majority of single/never married 18- to 34-year-olds would to get married someday, it is possible that more single/never married millennials with children will ultimately get married in the months and years ahead.

It is also possible that more millennials — married or not — will have children in the near future.

Children Under 18 in Household, by Generation

Millennials% Gen Xers% Baby boomers% Traditionalists% TOTAL% None One Two Three or more
60 32 86 98 66
15 23 9 1 13
13 26 4 1 12
11 19 2 1 9
Gallup U.S. Daily tracking, Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2014


Most millennials have not yet married, and they are waiting longer to marry. For 34-year-olds, just over half (56%) are married, and of these, 83% have children.

But a substantial number (46%) of those who have never been married and are well into their 30s have children.

This may represent a seismic shift in the connection between marriage and child rearing because as recently as 2000, the comparable percentage of single/never married 30- to 34-year-olds with children was just 30%.

More millennials currently live in multi-adult households than is true for other generations, and the data suggest that un those older generations, these multi-adult households consist primarily of single millennials living collectively.

Domestic partnerships — not common in general — are much more common among millennials, and millennials are more than twice as ly as older Americans to identify as LGBT. No doubt this is a reflection of changing social standards within the larger American community.

These last observations about marriage, family and sexuality tend to point to a generation that is beginning to rethink and reconstruct social norms to better fit its wants and needs, throwing off convention when it no longer serves a compelling purpose.

The face of the American family has profoundly changed during the past two generations, with millennials picking up where Gen Xers left off. Along with these changes, or perhaps as a result of them, social norms within American society have shifted — and with them, nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

It would be wise for marketers and business leaders to stay abreast of the kinds of changes millennials bring to American society, because understanding how this large group of consumers approaches the world — and the marketplace — could be lucrative.

Getting it wrong, however, could hamstring and hobble a company for decades.

Download Gallup's latest report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, to get further insight into what millennials really want from a job, manager and company, and what organizations can do to become this generation's employer of choice.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.


What We Can Learn From the Dramatic Dip in Divorce Among Millennials

Baby Boomers Answer Why Did I Not Get Married?

The latest census figures show an 18 percent drop in the divorce rate among Millennials compared with earlier generations at the same ages. It's the first decline in divorce rates in more than a century. To a sociologist me—I study marriage and divorce patterns—this is stunning news.

But it shouldn't be.

Millennials act differently from their parents—and, sometimes, that's because of their parents.

The Baby Boom generation has had the highest divorce rate in recorded American history, but it's also the only generation that has increased its divorce rate as the Boomers aged into their 60s and beyond.

A large number of Millennials experienced household and emotional instability growing up, and they didn't it.

In fact, they disd it so much that other trends have followed. Women began marrying later. And, looking at the sudden impoverishment of their mothers after divorce, women decided to become much more economically self-sufficient.

They increased their number of years in school or in vocational training partly so they could take care of themselves. Men, too, married later and extended their years of schooling. And everyone faced a daunting economy as they left high school or college.

This became the era of the unpaid internship and middle-class and upper-middle-class kids taking low-wage jobs they would have scorned in another economy.

Young people have also seemed to stay young longer, as more school and less compelling jobs have combined with a desire to spend longer having fun. There has been less dating and more hanging out or hooking up.

Job traction was evasive until their late 20s and early 30s.

They delayed marriage and childbirth until their late 20s and early 30s—in fact, now is the first time in history that more American women are having babies in their 30s than in their 20s.

What's more, college-educated women are now far more ly to get married than women without a degree, another departure from prior norms. As a result, Millennial women have been more mature, and the economy has often been better, when women finally decide to look for a spouse. They can thereby be more professionally established, and less dependent on their husbands' incomes.

Un women in the 1970s, who were sometimes disadvantaged in the marriage market if they'd experienced unusual success, these women are sought after because women's stock as equal partners has risen.

Yet, even with these favorable shifts for working women, studies show some division on the sort of work-and-home balance that young men want in their wives: A 2017 report released by the Council on Contemporary Families found that the youngest Millennial men (aged 18 to 25) favor stay-at-home wives over wives who remain employed once married.

Older Millennials and Gen X’ers, on the other hand, continue in the vein of Boomers by preferring two-income families.

The jury is out on why these generational differences exist, but it seems—to me—that Millennials are seeking old and new answers on how to make their marriages “divorce-proof” after witnessing the difficulties that their own parents' dual-income households had encountered. The retrograde views endorsed by some young men today more ly represent a sort of nostalgia for the 1950s bread-winner model of family life, rather than a realistic aspiration.

Add to all this the fact that Millennials, having witnessed divorce, were frightened about the fragility of marriage in ways their Boomer parents were not. Many Boomers grew up with parents who stayed married no matter what.

And Boomers went on to critique the marital model that required submission by wives and permitted husbands much greater power.

Criticism of traditional marriage was a central focus of the women's liberation movement, and many women and men divorced as roles and relationships heaved under clashing ideologies.

I remember the dialogue in the opening salvos of the women's liberation movements, when many women regarded marriage as a trap that allowed the replication of those patriarchal norms that their fathers, and their fathers' fathers, had presumed as a natural right. Boomer women formed “consciousness-raising groups” to rebel against a system where husbands could subjugate their wives with impunity. Women left marriages, or were left by husbands, in anger but without always having the economic wherewithal to weather the transition.

Nonetheless, many Boomers saw divorce as salvation from a bad deal, so, after marrying in their early to mid-20s (often recklessly and ambivalently, given the upheaval of gender norms and behaviors at the time), they were emotionally prepared to leave disappointing marriages.

Millennials did not have to go through the same kind of culturally chaotic period. They inherited changed gender roles but not the critique of marriage as an institution. They deferred commitment because they wanted to experience individual development and fun for longer. And they did not want to replicate the fractured households they grew up in.

Independent living had its positive and negative consequences for marriage, as serial cohabiting or dating made it harder to find spouses when people peeled off and started to wed by their early 30s. This has created a crunch for women in their mid-30s if they wanted to reserve child-bearing for marriage.

Some women who wanted to marry did not, and some women who wanted children did not have them. Men who waited later did not, for the most part, have the same biological limits or dating disadvantages.

Still, because later fertility can mean less fertility, childbearing for the Millennial generation has been, for the most part, reduced.

While we are in an era of greater marital stability (and, we hope, more happiness), we need be cautious about forecasting the future of divorce for the Millennials.

We must take into account that Millennials marry later, and some demographers have calculated that about a quarter of all Americans will never marry.

The lower divorce rate may reflect the fact that marriages happen later, or that fewer people are marrying.

Still, it looks a new trajectory for marriage. These figures allow us to think optimistically that perhaps divorce has finally dipped in a significant and lasting way. Divorce rates had inched up from the turn of the 20th century, then zoomed upward from the late 1960s to the '80s before leveling off.

Now it seems to have taken a new direction for the first time in more than a century. The Millennials may be proving that coming to marriage a bit later in life, with less rigid roles and with more egalitarian unions, will have realized the kind of marriage that Boomers envisioned but were not always so successful at creating.

(Photo: Pacific Standard)

Understanding Gen Z, a collaboration between Pacific Standard and Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, investigates the historical context and social science research that helps explain the next generation. Join our newsletter to see new stories, and let us know your thoughts on , , and Instagram.

Understanding Gen Z was made possible by Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and its director, Margaret Levi, who hosted the iGen Project. Further support came from the Knight Foundation.

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They grew up with phones in their hands—and learned early not to blindly trust the Internet. Read more

Why Generation Z Should Give Religion a Second Chance

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How Gen Z'ers Are Remaking Religion to Suit Their Values

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Gen Z Is the Least Religious Generation. Here's Why That Could Be a Good Thing

The trend toward non-religiousness in this generation is probably here to stay. The upsides include increasing levels of tolerance. Read more


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