Although millennials are marrying at lower rates than young people have in the past, they are still taking economic factors into account when choosing mates, according to a U.S. Census Bureau paper. The report also suggests that with today’s hardships on millennials, a woman’s earning power is as much of an attractive feature as a man’s when young people decide to get married.

“Although most people claim to marry for love and not economic reasons, research nonetheless shows that economic security is considered a ‘prerequisite’ for marriage in modern times,” said Dr. Benjamin Gurrentz, writing for the bureau’s Social, Economic And Housing Statistics Division.

The report, whose full title is “Millennial Marriage: How Much Does Economic Security Matter To Marriage Rates For Young Adults?” says that only 26 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 32 were married in 2013. That rate had fallen from 36 percent of young adults in 1997 and 48 percent in 1980.

The average age of marriage for men was 27.4 in 2017 and 29.5 for women. In 1965, by contrast, women settled down at an average age of 21 and men around 23.

The Census Bureau report took five years of data from the American Community Survey (from 2012 to 2016) to find which factors affect millennial marriage rates the most. Economic insecurity was a big factor.

Millennials face a greater uphill battle than previous generations because they have statistically lower wealth and income than Generation X and baby boomers. Millennials most likely entered the job market during or just after the Great Recession, only to find fewer opportunities and lesser salaries. There’s also a higher chance that they have historically high levels of student loan debt weighing them down.

Factors such as employment, living arrangements and costs, wages and poverty greatly impact marriage rates among young adults. A mere 9.8 percent of young adults in the study owned a home while 31.7 percent lived with their parents.

Gurrentz’s analyses showed owning a home had more of a positive association with marriage. People often want to establish financial independence before getting married, and the data suggests that living at home with parents, a now common living arrangement, poses a barrier to marriage.

Gurrentz deciphered which factors mattered more or less to millennial marriage rates. If the geographic area was more expensive, there was a higher likelihood of the millennials there living with a parent or roommate or cohabitating with a partner.

He also found that women’s socioeconomic background mattered to men just as much as men’s socioeconomic status mattered to women.

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