Millennials are not getting married as early in their lives as older generations. The Pew Research Center states that anyone born from 1981 to 1999 makes up the Millennial generation. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, only 27 percent of Millennial Americans are married. However, 32 percent of Generation X-ers and 40 percent of Baby Boomers were married at that age.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Survey, the average age of marriage for women in 1963 was 21 and the average age for men was 23. In contrast, Millennial women marry at an average of 27 and Millennial men marry at an average age of 29.
For many, it is not a matter of wanting to get married, but rather being able to get married. Millennials’ financial situations can hinder their ability to get married. According to Forbes, the median household income is 20 percent less than the Baby Boomer generation at the age of marriage.
“Especially now with rising college tuition, younger people find themselves in more and more debt when they graduate college,” software engineering freshman Sarah Samora said. “Marriage tends to be an economic partnership as much as anything, and it’s just not an ideal situation, especially if one person has more debt than the other and vice versa.”
While some Millennials hold reservations about marriage for financial reasons, others do not see the purpose in getting married.
“I don’t really see a distinct point in [marriage] other than possible tax benefits and other legal benefits, I could possibly see that,” psychology freshman Kat Scarry said. “But for myself personally, morally wise, I don’t see the tradition of marriage as being something that is a super important thing that needs to be carried on, or that you need it for a fulfilling life.”
In spite of skeptical attitudes toward marriage, some Millennials feel differently. Camille and Owen Schwaegerle exemplify this. The couple married the summer after graduating from Cal Poly in 2017; Owen was 23 and Camille was 21.
“All of our mentors, and all of our friends, all of our family members see how much Owen and I challenged each other to grow and what a mutual benefit it is for both of us to live our lives married versus single,” Camille said.
Camille said she believes there are many benefits to getting married at a younger age and mentioned that she has 20 to 30 friends who are already married, too.
“We have [had] the opportunity to build an interdependent lifestyle from the start,” Camille said.
Although the majority of Millennials stray away from marriage or getting married later, it is certainly not true of all Millennials. Trends come and go, so the next generation could potentially return to the marriage rates of older generations.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the Millennial generation includes anyone born from 1931 to 1999.