US marriage rates higher among better educated, financially stable: Study

While the overall marriage rate in the U.S. has remained relatively stable over the past decade, new analysis shows that better educated Americans have a higher propensity to take the plunge.

In 2015, for adults ages 25 and older, those with a four-year college degree had a marriage rate of 65%, compared with 55% for those with some higher education and 50% for individuals with only a high school diploma, according to The Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. For all education categories, the marriage rate was above 65% just 25 years ago, the report noted.

For adults who have never been married, financial security is a main concern. For this section of individuals, more than 40% of those who have family incomes below $75,000 cite finances as a major obstacle. As income levels decline, the rate of individuals who say financial stability is a major reason they are not married increases. That trend is also exacerbated among young adults (ages 18-29), 51% of whom say they are not financially stable enough to marry.

Marriage, however, has been shown to bring financial benefit both at the individual and governmental level.

Tying the knot, first and foremost, increases the economic viability of the couple, according to a 2014 study by Robert Lerman and Bradford Wilcox.

“We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44% higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today,” the study found.

Higher marriage rates are also linked to more economic success and less violent crime at the state level, according to research by Joseph Price, Lerman and Wilcox. The 2015 report documents a positive correlation between marriage and economic growth and mobility, while concluding marriage also decreases the risk of children growing up in poverty.

“In America, the wealth of states is clearly tied to the state of their marital unions,” Price, Lerman and Wilcox concluded.

In total, 50% of U.S. adults are married today, according to Pew. That is down from a peak of 72% in 1960.