The news: If you're looking for a life partner but having trouble settling down, don't worry. It's not you, it's the entire country.
A new report by Pew Research Center suggests a record number of Americans — 20% of adults 25 years old and older — have never been married, and some 25% of Millennials simply will never marry in their lifetime.
While much of this can be attributed to changing attitudes toward the institution of marriage — mainly that young people are more likely to pursue committed relationships without a legal marriage — there are some important socioeconomic factors at play. Here are some reasons why more Americans might be foregoing marriage more than ever before:
The cultural norms surrounding marriage are changing.
According to Pew, both men and women are marrying later in life, and there has been an increase in the number of people who choose to cohabit or raise children outside of marriage: Around 24% of never-married 25- to 34-year-olds live with a partner. And as the graph above shows, public opinion regarding marriage is changing as well.
More women are looking for successful partners.
Among the pool of never-married adults, just over half (53%) say they would like to get married someday. But the big difference between men and women is what they prioritize in a partner: While men believed having "similar ideas about having and raising children" was the most important thing in a partner, women focused the most on finding a partner with a steady job. And with an economy still recovering from a recession and high unemployment rates, that condition becomes harder to fulfill.
Which leads to the pool of eligible men shrinking.
"Among never-married adults ages 25 to 34, the number of employed men per 100 women dropped from 139 in 1960 to 91 in 2012, despite the fact that men in this age group outnumber young women in absolute numbers," Pew found. "In other words, if all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, 9% of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group."
Many people simply don't have the financial security to get married.
Around 30% of all never-married people who wanted to eventually get married said they hadn't been able to settle down because they hadn't found the right partner. But what is more concerning is that nearly the same amount, 27%, said they couldn't get married because they weren't financially prepared, while 22% said they were too young or not ready to get married.
Are we looking at an "end of men," where the economy has so decimated America's males that more women are choosing to go it alone? Maybe. But chances are, financial concerns are a major factor for both men and women. So even if you go through all the trouble of finding your life partner, the inability to make a financial commitment might be standing in your way.