- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2014

Millennial women are playing hard to get when it comes to marriage, and that might be paying off for them in the long run both personally and socially.

According to “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” a report released by the National Marriage Project, the percentage of women in their 20s that are married has declined by more than 20 percent since the 1970s. The report also said only 33 percent of 25-year-old women are or have been married, and that the average marriage age is 29 for men and 27 for women, America’s oldest-ever average.

Dr. Patrick Fagan is the director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council, where he examines relationships and America’s social problems through social science data. He didn’t seem too surprised with Knot Yet’s findings. Dr. Fagan suggests that millennials are choosing to delay marriage as a result of the challenges observed from their parents’ generation.

“They partook of the sexual revolution [out-of-wedlock births, abortion and divorce] shaping a society where only 46 percent of teen-agers reach adulthood with a mother and father still committed to each other,” Dr. Fagan said.

The Knot Yet report highlights advantages for millennial women who delay marriage. First, women who are getting married in their 30s tend to be wealthier.

“By the time they reach their mid-30s, there is an $18,152 difference in annual personal income between college-educated women who marry before age 20 and those who wait until 30 or later,” the report said. This also leads to a higher combined income for a couple who choose to delay marriage.

Dr. Fagan also told The Washington Times that college debt is another factor to be considered in delaying marriage for millennials.

“Young couples today have to buy two houses: one for their family, the other to pay off their college debt,” he said.

More controversial might be the social benefit that marriage delay decreases the national divorce rate. Couples who marry before age 25 are more likely to get divorced, according to the report.

Knot Yet’s own research supports the finding, saying “women who marry in their early 20s and especially in their teens are significantly more likely to end up divorced than those who marry in their mid-20s or later.”

The delay in marriage allows for greater financial security, as highlighted above, and that, in turn, suggests avoiding divorce since fighting about money is the biggest contributor to divorce, according to a Kansas State University study last year.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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