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While U.S. marriage rates are in 100-year low, rebound expected shortly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Marriage rates are at their lowest in the past 100 years, analysts say. The recent recession sent far fewer couples down the altar, according to statistics. However, a new analysis projects that a long withheld demand and the large population of marriage-eligible Millennials, ages 18-34, means more will marry over the next two years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The number of marriages across the United States fell more than five percent during the recession. Cultural changes about whether and when to marry, coupled with the fact that two-thirds of first marriages are preceded by cohabitation, in addition to unemployment and underemployment - fueled the U.S. wedding decline.

However, projections from the Demographic Intelligence of Charlottesville say there are signs on the horizon of a temporary boost in weddings.

The company projects a four percent increase in the number of weddings since 2009, reaching 2.168 million this year; 2.189 million in 2014. Depending on the economic recovery, the report projects a continuing increase to 2.208 million in 2015.

While marriage numbers are stagnant or declining among those with a high school education or less, younger Americans, and the less affluent, numbers are rising among women ages 25-34, the college-educated and the affluent, which is where "short-term increases in weddings will be concentrated," according to the analysis. It's based on a variety of measures, including unemployment and consumer confidence, which reflect the relationship between financial security and the transition to marriage.

"Declines in weddings are likely to set in towards the end of the decade, even though the number of young adults is increasing, because of the nation's ongoing retreat from marriage," the report notes.

Experts say that these figures are relevant. "Given the drop in marriage rates, it's surprising to see a group project an increase," sociologist Andrew Cherlin says. The director of the Hopkins Population Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Cherlin adds that "it makes sense . If you're going to get married in time to have kids, you can't wait forever, so they may be saying that the postponement of marriages is running its course, and a backlog of young adults is about to schedule their weddings," he says.

From 2007 to 2009, the number of marriages each year fell from 2.197 million to 2.080 million. The report estimates that more than 175,000 weddings have been postponed or foregone since the recession began.

The projected wedding increases "might be overly optimistic," according to sociologist and demographer Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

"They seem to think the number of weddings is going to increase. That's possible," she says. But "not all those marriages are going to be among those young people entering into their first marriages. The report is focusing on the Echo Baby Boomers entering into their marrying years, which is true, but my issue is that one-third of marriages are remarriages, and the remarriages are not among the young people."

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