Why aren’t Millennials getting married? Despite the popularity of dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and OKCupid, Millennials are not pairing off.
Only 26% of Millennials are married now, compared to 36% of Gen-Xers and 48% of Baby Boomers when they were young. We propose (no pun intended) that the economy is to blame.
When they were between 18 and 33, Gen-Xers had a median household income of $64,949 — enough to support two adults, according to Economic Policy Institute’s budget calculator. At the same age, a Millennial today can expect to earn only $62,528. A difference of $2,000 may not seem significant, but rising costs of living and a more competitive job market place increasing pressure on Millennials’ budgets, leaving little room to support a family.
Facing very little financial breathing room, the average Millennial is often cornered into taking whatever job he can find to pay the bills. So, while their incomes are similar to Gen-Xers, Millennials’ effective wealth is not.
In fact, the average Millennial is more likely to move back into his parents’ home or to live with roommates than to shack up and settle down.
Taking on a long-term partner presents a high risk to the average Millennial. A whimsical job market may require him to move across the country at any time. Throw a partner into the mix, and now this couple must choose which of them gets to ascend the career ladder faster.
If the couple commits to moving to Seattle, for instance, for one member’s career, the other member’s probability of finding a good job is likely much lower now that her job search is restricted to that geographical area.
Furthermore, because of the uncertain nature of employment in today’s economy, she may be unable to rely on her partner for long-term financial support while she looks
With higher effective wealth, a Gen-Xer was able to take on a long-term partner with less risk of financial ruin or heartbreak.
The Gig Economy
Luckily, Millennials are solving their own problem. As of 2015, one in three Americans are earning income in some way other than the traditional 9-to-5 job. Many of these have turned to the Internet for their alternative income streams.
Those with cars can offer their services via Uber. Others are making money with only their computers and some Wi-Fi. On outsourcing platforms like Upwork and Amazon Mechanical Turk, Millennials are logging hours doing tasks for employers all over the world. From earning 2 cents for transcribing the words on a picture of a receipt to making $150 an hour for advanced graphic-design work, this generation is finding ways to make ends meet.
How can we help these mostly poor singles? By staying out of their way.
Government regulation of the gig economy looms inevitable on the horizon; Uber has already faced several setbacks brought on by bitter taxi drivers and persuadable bureaucrats. But the longer we can hold regulation off, and the more we can reduce the existing regulatory burden, the more hope Generation X has for grandchildren. By allowing Millennials to market their skills online without hindrance, we can allow them to make their small fortunes with their unique knowledge.
Millennials are not getting married and, for now, the economy is to blame. Let’s allow them to find their paths with the tools and technology they have, lest, generations from now, history finds those who encouraged intervention to blame.