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The Relationship Between Money Concerns and Marriage Rates

The Impact of Money Concerns on Marriage Rates

Studies show that, as American culture has moved toward gender equality in the workplace, the role of marriage has changed significantly. In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than twice as many adults over the age of 25 said they were not married, more than double the rate from a study done in 1960. Currently, one in five over 25 are single—in 1960, it was just nine percent.

According to researchers, the trend has been consistent over the last half century—each generation has been less inclined to enter into marriage than the previous one. Experts say the reasons are many, but that the single biggest factor has been the move toward gender and pay equality in the workplace.

Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, and How Love Conquered Marriage, says that access to birth control and improvements in household technology have made marriage less about economics and more about love and companionship. But before women started having greater opportunities and earning potential, many women considered their options limited and viewed marriage as the best economic alternative. Many men also perceived a wife as a benefit, but primarily as someone to take care of the home and cook the meals while the man provided for the family.

The Pew study found that men are more likely to stay single than women, a statistic that seems tied to the trend that more and more men under the age of 50 are not working (presumably living with parents). Of the single women polled, four out of five said that the most important characteristic in a potential mate would be a steady job. The odds of that—just slightly more than six employed men available for every 10 women.

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