Fact check: Why younger generations are saying “I don’t”

March 7, 2022

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Illustration by Carolyn Burt (Carolyn Burt)

Young adults’ desire to marry has greatly dwindled over the years as factors like fear of commitment, inflation and high divorce rates have taken a toll on younger generations.

A majority of millennials — those born from 1981 to 1996 — aren’t tying the knot at the same rate as previous generations.

56% of millennials are not married, leaving less than half of millennials saying “I do,” according to the Pew Research Center.

For communications major and millennial Cara Polus there is a different mentality towards marriage that her generation has, compared to how her parents approached it, who have been married for over 35 years.

“There’s a lot of fear around marriage and getting trapped into something that may not be good,” Polus said. “A lot of people are just wanting to go on a journey with someone before they commit to something that big.”

Current generations feel hesitant towards marriage due to the high divorce rates in baby boomers, which have doubled over the past 25 years, according to a Pew Research study.

Tyler Mikkelson, a communications major and a millennial, voiced the same sentiment while adding that he has many friends with divorced parents.

“My parents never got divorced, but half of my friends’ parents got divorced. How do you see that and say, ‘Oh, marriage is a good thing,’” Mikkelson said. “My brother’s friends got married in their early thirties [and] late twenties, and they seem happy. We’ll see in 10 years.”

To add to the concerns from younger generations, a recent survey by the Institute for Family Studies showed that the most popular place to meet for young adults is online.

Those born from 1997 to 2012, deemed Generation Z, can attest to the rise of online dating.

Carla Cruz, a biology major who is a part of Gen Z, claimed that social media plays a big role in why this generation isn’t marrying.

“I feel like it has a big impact on our generation,” said Cruz. “The older generations were into being more connected with their significant other. Our generation is more isolated.”

Commitment issues come to mind for art major and Gen Zer Daniel Espinoza, who also highlighted social media as the culprit. Espinoza asserted that this generation doesn’t want to settle down, and the rise of social media makes it easy to play the field.

Rebecca Namuddu, a Gen Z psychology major, believes the lack of marriages also has to do with inflation. The most recent consumer price index report indicated the highest level of inflation since 1982, with an increase in prices of 7.5% in 2021.

With inflation on young people’s minds, there is also the concern of economic security. Young adults ages 18-34 want a healthy socioeconomic relationship — having a full-time job that pays high wages and great housing — before a wedding, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As millennials seek to avoid and change the mistakes of past generations, in terms of marriage, it will be interesting to watch which footsteps Gen Z chooses to follow.

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