DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Marriage rates are declining, impacting economy, said expert

Nov 7, 2023, 2:00 PM

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, Steven Paska, 26, of Arlington, Va., proposes to his girl...

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, Steven Paska, 26, of Arlington, Va., proposes to his girlfriend of two years Jessica Deegan, 27, framed by cherry blossom trees in peak bloom, in Washington D.C. Deegan said yes to the surprise marriage proposal. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

SALT LAKE CITY– Marriage rates have declined by 60% in the past 50 years according to information from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, and as reported by Axios.

Dr. Dave Schramm, a family life specialist and associate professor at Utah State University said Utah’s marriage rates have followed the trend.

In 2000, 10.6 out of every 1,000 people were married. In 2021, the number dropped to 9.1, according to Schramm. 

Economic benefits of marriage

Higher marriage rates lead to a stable economy, Schramm said.  And married households tend to provide higher median incomes for families.

Simply, when families have more money, they can spend more money. 

Additionally, they correlate to better physical and mental health, according to Schramm. 

“The benefits go on and on when they’re happy, healthy marriages,” he added. 

Schramm said that the benefits of healthy marriages spill over into parent-child relationships. 

“Even children raised outside of an intact family, they’re more likely to experience social mobility when raised in communities where there are more married parent families,” Schramm said. 

Why are marriage rates changing? 

Schramm told KSL NewsRadio that lower marriage rates are due to divorces and some people choosing not to get married.

“People are kind of shying away from marriage, maybe they haven’t seen good examples in their own lives. They’re a little bit leery to make that commitment,” Schramm said of those choosing not to marry. 

Currently, in the United States, the average woman marries at age 28. The average American male marries at age 34. Schramm said those average ages are a little lower in Utah. 

Additionally, younger marriages lead to increased divorce rates. 

“There’s what’s called a success equivalence — if they graduate from high school, don’t have a child out of … wedlock, and then get some education,” said Schramm. Often financial stability can cause stress in new marriages. 

Having financial resources can help alleviate some of the stress. 

Schramm said our brains are not fully developed until our mid-20s. “I’m not [necessarily] suggesting wait … [until] your mid-20s. But there is something about … being able to really think through … a person’s perspective [and] have compassion [and] forgiveness.

“Those types of qualities, virtues, and values are essential for long-lasting healthy relationships,” he added. 

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Marriage rates are declining, impacting economy, said expert