No job, no wedding Economic downturn affects trends

Young adults with college degrees are more likely to be married than those who are less educated, a reversal of longtime trends as the struggling economy pushes weddings to all-time lows.

About 62 percent of college-educated 30-year-olds were married or had been married, compared with 60 percent of those without a bachelor’s degree, according to a  Pew Research Center analysis of census data. That is a significant shift from the 1990s, when young adults who didn’t finish college were more likely to have wed than their better-educated counterparts, 75 percent to 69 percent.

The median age at first marriage for those lacking degrees has now risen to 28, drawing even with those who are college-educated.

Demographers attributed the shift partly to an economic downturn that has hit lesser-educated workers harder. As a whole, younger adults are postponing marriage while they struggle to find work, and those lacking college degrees are seeing sharper declines in marriage.

The rising number of unmarried couples choosing to live together — common particularly for those who are not college-educated — is also contributing to the decreases in marriage.

“The labor market has not been kind to young, less educated workers,” said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew who wrote the report. “College used to delay marriage. Now, not completing college delays marriage.” — ap