A report published by the CDC on Wednesday showed that marriage rates in the U.S. had dropped lower than any statistics on record since 1900.
In 2018, the latest data given in the report, only 6.5 people out of 1,000 got married. In previous years, it averaged about 6.8, even hitting 7 out of 1,000 in 2016.
What’s stopping couples from getting hitched? Experts point to not only a shift in cultural values but, more pressingly, financial strain.
“Even though marriage can have many economic advantages ... most people feel that the advantages of marriage will work for them if they already have the money to do it. If you’re struggling ... thinking about supporting a family may seem quite daunting,” psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz told TODAY.
Sally Curtin, the report’s author, said in an interview that she didn’t necessarily find the reports concerning, but there could be “implications for the economic and health outcomes of individuals and families.”
“Married couples tend to have more resources, better health outcomes and lower death rates,” Curtin said.
Dr. Christine Whelan of the University of Wisconsin also thinks the recent decline may simply be because people are following less traditional family paths.
“The idea of first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby — it could be any order you choose at this point. For the last couple decades, we’ve seen ‘choose your own adventure’ when it comes to marriage patterns.” — Whelan, University of Wisconsin’s School of Human Ecology
At her school, Whelan heads a department called the Money, Relationship and Equality Initiative. Her research has shown that finances are a crucial aspect of relationships, and conversations need to happen in order to take a relationship further.
“While chocolates are wonderful,” she said in an interview with Public News Service, “if we want to get at the real thing that makes love work, it’s understanding what matters to each of us in the relationship and spending our limited resources in keeping with what matters.”
Researchers expect marriage rates to continue to dwindle in the next few years.
The coronavirus pandemic is testing marriages in an unprecedented way. Between the cooped-up time indoors and the failing economy, the country is unlikely to see an uptick in weddings.
“A lot of it is the economy, and the extent to which COVID has a lasting effect on the economy, it might affect family formation,” Curtin told The Wall Street Journal.
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