A long-term decline in marriage accelerated during the severe recession, according to new data from the Census Bureau, with more couples postponing marriage and often choosing to cohabit without tying the knot.
“People are unsure about their job security, and a lot of people lost their jobs,” said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, a private research group that analyzed census figures. “Getting married is obviously a big step and if you’re not comfortable about your future, it makes sense that you’d postpone a big decision like this.”
Two factors contribute to the decline in marriage among adults ages 25 to 34, said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University: less marriage and more cohabitation, which has become far more socially acceptable, even with children.Malthus would have approved of people postponing marriage, and thus presumably childbearing, in bad times. He would have strongly disapproved of cohabitation, but on the other hand it still contributes to lower fertility in bad times because cohabiting couples have lower fertility than married couples.