On the Back Burner
By Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman - CTW Features | posted on February 02, 2013 at 12:00am
Till debt do us part? Financial constraints among reasons couples delay the wedding
The median age of marriage has gone up significantly in the past few years from age 20 for women and 23 for men in 1970 to age 27 and 29, respectively, in 2011 according to the Pew Research Center. Among college graduates, 55 percent were married in 2011, down from to 61 percent in 2008.
Why are people delaying marriage? The varied reasons include increased cohabitation, putting education and career first, and a change in desires.
Yet other reasons impact their decision to delay, such as the rise in student loans.
A study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University has shown that 14 percent of people say they are putting off marriage because of student loans.
“We have heard from students who are borrowers saying that they have all this debt, they don’t think they can afford to get married,” says Jen Mishony, deputy director at Young Invincibles, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization who raises awareness about how rising student loans impact this generation. According to Mishony, two-thirds of students graduate from a four-year college with an average of about $26,000 in debt.
Weddings also are a costly investment. According to The Wedding Report, a market research company, the average wedding costs $26,000, coincidentally the same average amount of debt accrued by students. Shane McMurray, founder and CEO The Wedding Report, says that more than 30percent of couples use existing or newly opened credit cards to pay for their wedding, but he adds that he does not have figures on whether loan debt or wedding costs have an effect on rising marriage age. “It could simply be that individuals are focusing first on education, then career, then family.”