“Times are changing.” Every generation says that about one thing or another in its life. For those who were born in the 70’s, a recent Pew Research Center study shows that the real change of their generation is the shift in marriage trends compared to prior generations.
According to the study, there is “zero” difference in the rate of marriage between women born in the 70’s who have college educations and the women who do not. Research shows that 84 percent of women in each of those groups were married before turning 40.
This statistical discovery is a notable change since the studied women’s mothers and grandmothers were their age. Not only is the newer generation marrying at a more equal rate, but the marriages of the generation as a whole are less likely to end in divorce. The author of the Pew study calls the shift a “historical reversal.”
The Washington Post recalls what’s been called the “marriage gap” among earlier generations. In the past, women who didn’t get college educations tended to marry at a significantly higher rate compared to women who continued in their studies.
The logic behind that past trend was that women who were in school put marriage off for later years or were more interested in their careers rather than marriage. On average, the women from the newer generation married at the age of 28. Researchers believe these women married with more consciousness of their future happiness compared to women of past generations, which decreases the potential of divorce.
Sources make an important clarification about Pew’s findings. The “marriage gap” has likely evened out because many men and women from the less-educated population are not marrying as frequently compared to those of previous decades. Economic hardship has forced people to devote more planning to the marriage decision, and that means putting off marriage until couples feel comfortable about their financial situations.
Younger generations are also more aware of the stress divorce can add to one’s life, especially if kids are involved. The baby-boomer population has shown how divorce can get combative and expensive due to child custody, child support, spousal support issues and more. While splitting up is undoubtedly the best answer for many, it is not surprising that younger populations are approaching their marriages with longevity in mind.
The Washington Post: “No more ‘marriage gap’ for college-educated women,” Donna St. George, 7 Oct. 2010