While many wedding traditions are still going strong — 84% of brides are even still incorporating old, new, borrowed and blue items into their wedding-day attire — it appears that the tradition of getting married at all might be stalling.
According to the 2015 edition of the U.S. Wedding Forecast by Demographic Intelligence, the marriage rate in the United States will be at its lowest point in a century this year and is poised to dip even lower.
“Even though we have seen a modest recovery in the economy, the marriage rate continues to slowly decline,” Sam Sturgeon, president of Demographic Intelligence, said in a May 19 news release. “A variety of factors — including sluggish job opportunities for the less educated, and declines in American religion — account for the American retreat from marriage.”
The researchers behind the report expect the marriage rate to fall to 6.74 marriages per 1,000 population in 2015. The trend is then likely to continue, down to 6.72 in 2016 and 6.70 in 2017. For comparison’s sake, that figure was 7.09 in 2008.
The forecast, which draws on demographic, cultural and economic data, includes detailed predictions of U.S. marriage trends for 2015, 2016 and 2017 — and in past years has been over 99% accurate in its predictions.
The researchers highlighted three more specific findings in this year’s report: that better-educated women are actually more likely to marry than their less-educated peers; that marriage rates have fallen the most dramatically for young women and women with lower education levels; and that more weddings now involve Hispanic brides.
Economic concerns are, unsurprisingly, a major factor in the falling marriage rate. That’s true especially among groups who were hit hard by the Great Recession, including young people and people without college degrees.
But cultural concerns are strong drivers of these trends as well, according to Demographic Intelligence. Both men and women are postponing marriage or forgoing it altogether because they are less likely to have faith in it as a permanent commitment, the report states; cohabitation has also emerged as a major competitor to marriage, especially as young Americans become less and less religious than previous generations.
The report and its predictions are consistent with other recent studies from well-known groups such as the Pew Research Center.