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The institution of marriage has fallen out of favor — or perhaps out of reach, it seems.
The marriage rate in the United States stood at 50 percent last year, down from a peak of 72 percent in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released U.S. Census Bureau data.
Marriage rates are higher among more-educated people, and that gap has increased over time. As Pew researchers Kim Parker and Renee Stepler write in a blog post, marriage rates are “more closely linked to socioeconomic status than ever before.”
Specifically, the analysis shows that among adults 25 and older, marriage rates in 2015 were:
- 65 percent among people with a four-year college degree (down from 69 percent in 1990)
- 55 percent among people with some college education (down from 67 percent)
- 50 percent among people with no education beyond high school (down from 63 percent)
A similar trend was found among adults 25 and older who have never married: 20 percent of those without a bachelor’s degree say they do not want to marry in the future, compared with 11 percent of those with a four-year college degree.
Among never-married adults who are open to marrying in the future, common reasons for not yet being married include:
- Not having found the right person
- Not being financially stable
- Not being ready to settle down
People with lower incomes are more likely to cite financial instability as a reason. This is particularly unfortunate, considering that marriage is associated with numerous financial benefits.
Financial benefits of marriage
Weddings and marriage are not without their potential financial pitfalls, as we’ve detailed in articles like “7 Money Mistakes That Can Mess Up Your Marriage.” But at the same time, marriage comes with some significant financial perks.
Many folks are familiar with possible tax benefits of marriage, for example. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly overlooked advantages:
- Lower car insurance rates: A 2015 study by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America found that most major car insurance carriers vary their rates based on a driver’s marital status, with drivers who are not married almost always being charged a higher premium.
- Spousal IRAs: When one spouse works and the other doesn’t, the working spouse may be able to contribute to an individual retirement account for the nonworking spouse — what the Internal Revenue Service calls a “spousal IRA.” There are hitches, such as the IRS restricting this perk to married folks who file joint tax returns. But this type of IRA benefits many married couples’ retirement savings.
- More Social Security options: “Of the hundreds of federal financial benefits of getting married,” the nonprofit Consumer Reports says, “options around claiming Social Security might be one of the most valuable.” For example, most married couples can choose between claiming their own Social Security benefits and claiming spousal benefits based on their spouse’s earnings. To learn more, check out “14 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks.”
What’s your take on America’s declining marriage rate? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.