College Grads More Likely to Say 'I Do'
For the first time in decades, young adults with college degrees are more likely to walk down the aisle by age 30 than their peers without further education, a new Pew Research Center study reports.
This is a reversal of longtime trends, the study's experts say, as the struggling economy pushes weddings to all-time lows. As a whole, more younger adults are postponing marriage while they struggle to find work, and those lacking college degrees are seeing sharper declines in marriage.
"There's a double whammy going on for the people who aren't college-educated," Richard Fry, senior research associate at the Pew Research Center who wrote the report, tells CNN.com. "They are facing difficult employment, and they are less likely to enter into marriage and receive the economic benefits marriage provides."
Two decades ago, Fry tells CNN, those without college degrees were more likely to get married than folks with college degrees. Marriage allowed those without college degrees to offset lower salaries.
But now, according to the study, there has been a significant shift. About 62 percent of college-educated 30-year-olds are married or had been married, compared with 60 percent of those without a bachelor's degree, the study finds. A decade ago, 75 percent of young adults who didn't finish college were married, compared to 69 percent of their college-educated counterparts.
Economic hardships among young men create barriers to marriage, the study says. High school-educated men between 25 and 34 earned less money in 2008, about $32,000 a year on average, a 12 percent decline from $36,300 in 1990. Meanwhile, earnings for college-educated men in the same group rose 5 percent to $55,000 in 2008, up from $52,300 in 1990. (These median annual earnings were adjusted for inflation.)
The declining fortunes can be a detriment to marriage prospects, Fry tells CNN, "because many people are seeking partners who can provide for a family and who are economically stable. "
During the same time period, unmarried couples living together has doubled and has consequently become a more acceptable alternative to marriage, Fry tells the network. Half of those living together are under 35, and more than 80 percent lack a college degree, the study says, citing census data.
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