Marriage among the Millenials

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Lizzie Plaugic unpacks a report (PDF) from UVA’s National Marriage Project that “showed increased rates of binge drinking and depression in non-married twenty-somethings”:

“Thirty-five percent of single men and cohabiting men report they are ‘highly satisfied’ with their life, compared to 52 percent of married men. Likewise, 33 percent of single women and 29 percent of cohabiting women are ‘highly satisfied,’ compared to 47 percent of married women.”

It’s a vague statistic though (“highly satisfied” could mean anything from an endless supply of Cheetos to a house in the Hamptons to daily sex), and it’s potentially misleading. Increased life satisfaction could be the result of marriage being an endorphin-increasing road to happiness, or it could mean that young people are waiting to get married until they have achieved happiness elsewhere, rather than the other way around. Whereas marriage used to mark the beginning of adult life, now it seems to be a thing you do after your adult life is already settled.

Libby Copeland figures that the study explains why many celebrities get married very young:

Once upon a time, men with high school degrees could obtain manufacturing jobs with solid wages and pensions that enabled them to marry and start families in their early 20s. Now, with the chances of nabbing a pension about as good as “winning the World Series,” as the Knot Yet study puts it, young blue-collar Americans can’t pay for a wedding, let alone a house and kids. But pop stars, of course, don’t have that problem. 

Nor do they, like middle- and upper-class women, need to worry about finishing college and working for several years before contemplating getting pregnant. They won’t be sacrificing a $10,000 annual bump in salary by marrying too soon; instead, they’re probably making more in their late teens and 20s than they’ll ever make again. And getting married might well help their brand. (Having a baby certainly will.)

In other words, celebrities marry young not because they’re more mature than the rest of us (clearly) but because they have the means so much of America lacks. The move may be driven by youthful impulse, but it is also, in a strange way, logical. They’re just doing what so many of us would have (ill-advisedly) done as teenagers if we’d had loads of cash and legal independence from our parents: married our first loves.

Meanwhile, Megan McArdle considers society’s incentives to get married:

College improves your earning prospects.  So does marriage.  Education makes you more likely to live longer. So does marriage.  Yet while many economist vocally support initiatives to move more people into college, very few of them vocally favor initiatives to get more people married.  Why is that, asks Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry?

Her theory:

[A]ll economists are, definitionally, very good at college.  Not all economists are good at marriage.  Saying that more people should go to college will make 0% of your colleagues feel bad.  Saying that more people should get married and stay married will make a significant fraction of your colleagues feel bad.  And in general, most people have an aversion to topics which are likely to trigger a personal grudge in a coworker.

 Via The Daily Dish.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.