Millennials are still being blamed for the demise of marriage, and many assume Gen Z is on the same anti-marriage path. We decided to ask them how they really feel…
Ever since headlines started shouting that Millennials were killing marriage–along with every other convention of young adulthood–Ypulse has been tracking their thoughts on the custom. What we’ve found (and have said before) is that Millennials aren’t rejecting marriage; they’re just in no rush to tie the knot. In fact, as the generation grows older, their ideas on the institution are becoming more conventional. And though teens are nowhere near their target marriage age, Gen Z has already caught up to Millennials’ feelings about the convention. According to Ypulse data from a recent monthly survey on life milestones, eight in 10 Millennials and Gen Z say “finding and marrying someone I love” is important to them. Only two in ten Gen Z teens agree with the statement “I don’t ever want to get married” (slightly fewer than Millennials) and just a third agree that “the concept of marriage is obsolete in the modern world.”
Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, the media still hasn’t dropped the narrative that young people are making marriage obsolete. Just last month, the headline “Millennials are killing marriage — here’s why that’s a good thing” splashed across a MarketWatch article, and the Huffington Post sought to answer the question,“Why Aren’t Millennials Getting Married?” Since this misconception is still going strong, we decided to check in with 13-35-year-olds again to get their current thoughts on getting hitched. Here are 4 stats that show just how Millennials and Gen Z are currently feeling about marriage:
The majority want to get married.
The fact that nearly eight in ten 13-35-year-olds want to get married says it all: young consumers are not boycotting the tradition. In fact, just 28% say they are only looking for a good time and are not interested in settling down, and 31% of Millennials are already married, with 4% currently engaged. On top of that, we found that 70% of 13-35-year-olds say marriage is the end goal of any serious relationship. Gen Z’s feelings on marriage are actually a little more traditional than Millennials–81% of 13-17-year-olds disagree with the statement “I don’t ever want to get married” (compared to 76% of Millennials), showing that the next generation might finally kill the myth that young people aren’t getting married.
They’re waiting for financial security before tying the knot.
Many have wondered what it is that’s holding Millennials back from getting married. Turns out the answer is a mashup of reasons that are all pretty responsible, not the least of which is financial stability. With 18-35-year-olds coming into adulthood saddled with student debt, entering an unstable job market, and seeking advanced degrees, the majority want to get a handle on the economic side of their lives before diving into marriage. As one couple who waited eight years to get married told MarketWatch, “For us, we’ll enter marriage in a stable and healthy financial situation…we know that being open with each other about money and being in a good situation does automatically remove some of the common tension of marriage.” Eighty percent of 13-35-year-olds also believe couples should have equal financial responsibilities, showing that money might be playing a big role in their marriage decisions.
But that doesn’t mean they’re ignorant about divorce.
Millennials and Gen Z grew up in the era of the highest divorce rate in history, which means they’re not blind to the fact that marriages don’t always work out: 32% admit that they might get divorced someday and 62% say they think it’s smart to get a prenup. But their clear-eyed view of marriage doesn’t mean they’re giving up on the institution altogether; it just means they’re trying to be smart about it. Millennials are getting hitched later and later in life and are taking strong precautions to ensure their marriages last. This approach seems to be working. A study from dating site eHarmony found that the longer people wait to marry, the happier they are in relationships, and an economist from the University of Michigan predicts that Millennials’ standards for marriage will mean that nearly two-thirds of marriages won’t end in divorce in the coming years.
At the end of the day, they still think it’s ok to be single.
All that said, Millennials and Gen Z are certainly rethinking some aspects of marriage. Though the majority still want it for themselves, it’s no longer the huge cultural expectation it once was. Only 49% of 13-35-year-olds say they feel pressured to get married, and nearly nine in ten say it’s ok to be single.
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