Millennials are not getting married – Probably Overthinking It

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In 2015 I wrote a paper referred to as “Will Millennials Ever Get Married?” the place I used knowledge from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to estimate the age at first marriage for ladies within the U.S, damaged down by decade of start.  

I discovered that ladies born within the 1980s and 90s had been getting married later than earlier cohorts, and I generated projections that counsel they are on observe to remain single at considerably greater charges.

Here are the outcomes from that paper, based mostly on 58 488 girls surveyed between 1983 to 2015:

Percentage of ladies ever married, based mostly on knowledge as much as 2015.

Each line represents a cohort grouped by decade of start. For instance, the highest line represents girls born within the 1940s.

The coloured segments present the fraction of ladies who had ever been married as a perform of age. For instance, amongst girls born within the 1940s, 82% had been married by age 25. Among girls born within the 1980s, solely 41% had been married by the identical age.

The grey strains present projections I generated by assuming that going ahead every cohort can be topic to the hazard perform of the earlier cohort. This methodology is more likely to overestimate marriage charges.

These outcomes present two traits:

  • Each cohort is getting married later than the earlier cohort.
  • The fraction of ladies who by no means marry is growing from one cohort to the following.

New knowledge

Yesterday the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) launched a new batch of knowledge from surveys carried out in 2017-2019.  So we will examine the predictions from 2015 with the brand new knowledge, and generate up to date predictions.

The following determine reveals the predictions from the earlier determine, which are based mostly on knowledge as much as 2015, in comparison with the brand new curves based mostly on knowledge as much as 2019, which incorporates 70 183 respondents.

Percentage of ladies ever married, based mostly on knowledge as much as 2019,
in comparison with predictions based mostly on knowledge as much as 2015.

For girls born within the 1980s, the fraction who’ve married is nearly precisely as predicted. For girls born within the 1990s, it’s considerably decrease.

New projections

The following determine reveals projections based mostly on knowledge as much as 2019.

Percentage of ladies ever married, based mostly on knowledge as much as 2019,
with predictions based mostly on knowledge as much as 2019.

The vertical dashed strains present the ages the place now we have the final dependable estimate for every cohort. The following desk summarizes the outcomes at age 28:

Decade of start 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
% married
earlier than age 28
87% 80% 70% 63% 55% 31%
Percentage of ladies married by age 28, grouped by decade of start.

The share of ladies married by age 28 has dropped shortly from every cohort to the following, by about 11 share factors per decade.

The following desk reveals the identical share at age 38; the final worth, for ladies born within the 1990s, is a projection based mostly on the information now we have to date.

Decade of start 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
% married
earlier than age 38
92% 88% 85% 80% 68% 51%
Percentage of ladies married by age 38, grouped by decade of start.

Based on present traits, we anticipate barely half of ladies born within the 1990s to be married earlier than age 38.

Finally, right here are the chances of ladies married by age 48; the final two values are projections.

Decade of start 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
% married
earlier than age 48
>93% >90% 88% 83% 72% 58%
Percentage of ladies married by age 48, grouped by decade of start.

Based on present traits, we anticipate girls born within the 1980s and 1990s to stay single at charges considerably greater than earlier generations.

Projections like these are based mostly on the belief that the longer term shall be just like the previous, however after all, issues change. In explicit:

  • These knowledge had been collected earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. Marriage charges in 2020 will most likely be decrease than predicted, and the impact might proceed into 2021 or past.
  • However, as financial situations enhance sooner or later, marriage charges may improve.

We’ll discover out after we get the following batch of knowledge in October 2022.

The code I used for this evaluation is on this GitHub repository.

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