Marriage rates have hit a record low in the United States. Today, just over 52% of the nation's adults who are married. That's down from 57% of married Americans in 2000. And for the first time, new Census results show that there are more single people between ages 25 and 24 than those of the same age who are currently married.
"The marriage gap used to be reversed: Prior to the 1990s, marriage rates among those with a high school diploma or less were higher than those with a four-year college education," says Mark Mather, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau. "The college-educated were more likely to postpone marriage compared with those in less-educated groups. Marriage rates today look very different, with higher proportions of young, highly educated adults entering formal unions, and a sharp drop among those with less education."
While fewer people are marrying, more couples are choosing to live together. The number of Americans co-habitating rose 13% in just one year, to 7.5 million couples. Analysts around the country believe the recession is to blame for the dramatic change.
According to Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, "Men's employment has taken a big hit, and when the guy doesn't have a stable job, couples are more hesitant about tying the knot."
"It makes sense to postpone marriage until economic things are worked out," says Benjamin Karney, co-founder of the Relationship Institute at UCLA. "In the 1950s, two people would get married as a way of starting their adult lives -- that's why you'd give them toasters and plates and linens," Karney said. "Nowadays, marriage is something you build up to and achieve."
Over the last few years, we've seen the recession affect the relationships of all Americans. More adult children are moving back home, families are cutting back on their vacations and reunions, and fewer people are divorcing because they can't afford to live separately.
How has the economy affected your relationships?