Aug. 27—The millennial generation is now America's largest, numbering 72.1 million, and at ages 26 to 41, fully in the primes of their lives. As the millennials hit more major milestones of adulthood, it is becoming evident how the generation is fundamentally reshaping many aspects of life and society in the U.S.
Family life has been one significant area where millennials' tendencies have diverged from those of earlier generations. Only 44% of millennials are married, and millennials have continued a long-running trend of delaying marriage, with the median age of first marriage currently sitting at 30.4 for men and 28.6 for women. But millennials also increasingly have different romantic and family arrangements, being more likely than previous generations to live with a partner or have children outside of marriage.
One reason for these shifts is an increasing prioritization of higher education. As educational attainment has grown in social and economic importance over time, young people are increasingly waiting until they have completed degrees to get married. And the most educated millennials are also the most likely to be married: 51.5% of millennials with a bachelor's degree or higher and 46.9% with an associate's degree are married, while those who haven't completed a college degree are married less than 40% of the time.
Educational attainment also may explain why married millennials tend to be better positioned economically than their unmarried peers. The median annual household income for married millennials is $92,000 — just below the $95,000 median for all married households, and significantly higher than the $73,200 median in unmarried millennial partner households. Interestingly, however, unmarried millennials may fare better than unmarried members of other generations, as the median income for all unmarried households is $72,000.
Millennial marriage trends also break down along racial lines. Asian and white millennials marry at the highest rates compared to all other racial and ethnic groups at 54.1% and 48.2%, respectively. On the other end of this spectrum, the marriage rate for Black millennials (24.7%) and American Indian or Alaska Native millennials (32.4%) are lowest among their peers.
With a host of social and economic factors correlating to millennials' marital status, marriage rates for the generation also vary by geography. Many of the states where young people are least likely to be married are expensive Northeastern states like New York or Massachusetts, or states with higher-than-average populations of racial and ethnic minorities, like Florida, Louisiana and New Mexico.
The top state for millennial marriages is Utah, at 59.6%. This is likely due to the strong presence of Mormons in the state, who tend to marry more frequently than members of other religious groups. And Utah's largest metro, Salt Lake City, leads the list of cities in the percentage of millennials who are married at 52.5% — just one of two major metros where more than half of millennials are married.
Though they met in St. Joseph, Lacey and Shaun Watson, both millennials, got married and live in Kansas City. They join the high-ranking city, which landed at number 5 in the United States, with 48.5% of millennials who are married, including 45.7% of millennial males who are married and 50.9% of females.
"We met at Missouri Western and Northwest and decided that Kansas City was what we were looking for," Shaun said.
While Lacey works in St. Joseph, the couple said several factors went into the decision to get married and live in Kansas City, including rent prices, rates and availability for wedding venues and access to things like entertainment and trails for running.
"At the time, St. Joseph didn't have something like the River Bluff Trail. We still need to check it out. But as much as we loved St. Joseph and Maryville, Kansas City felt like home. We love it," Lacey said.
The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau. To determine the locations where millennials are getting married, researchers at Self Financial calculated the share of millennials who are married out of all millennials. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher percentage of millennial males who are married was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000 — 349,999), midsize (350,000 — 999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more). Note: only locations with complete data available were included.
reporter Andrew Gaug
contributed to this story.
Andrew Gaug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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