Study discovers younger couples are avoiding wedlock

A study released in March determined that younger couples, in their mid-20s, are holding off on marriage and explored how this decision can affect couples with children.

The study reflects Cal State Fullerton students, where 83.1 percent reported themselves as single last year.

The new report, titled “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” was sponsored by the National Marriage Project, Relate Institute and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

CSUF students who determined their marital status as single rose about 35 percent since spring 2010, according to the school’s health assessment performed by the American College Health Association.

The assessment also reported 13 percent of students claimed to be married or with a domestic partner during both years. The average age of CSUF students in 2010 and 2012 was 21-24.

The report determined that people with a college education who have a child and are not married will still be more successful than someone who does not have a college education in the same situation.

Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said he was surprised to find that Knot Yet reported 58 percent of births occur outside of marriage from people with a high school diploma, but not a four-year college degree.

“If you look at sort of the most privileged among us, those with a college degree and perhaps better, they continue to follow a different script,” he said.

According to the report, only 12 percent of first births occur outside of marriage among people with a college degree.

The study added that young adults are now taking longer to finish their education and find a stable job.

Patricia Literte, Ph.D., a CSUF sociology professor, said many young people want to be financially stable before marriage, but it is harder to complete that now.

“More young people also sometimes postpone marriage because they come from divorced families and wish to be very careful when choosing a spouse so as to avoid divorce,” Literte said.

The report determined that 48 percent of first births in America are occurring outside of marriage.

Childbirth outside of marriage is occurring more often because of the acceptance of sex among unmarried couples and single parenthood, and the increase in negative feelings towards marriage and unmarried couples living together, Literte said.

Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned but this is no longer only a problem among teenagers, Albert said.

“While the teen pregnancy rate has dropped like a stone, unplanned pregnancy among single twenty-somethings has remained stubbornly high,” Albert said.

Couples with children who are remaining unmarried for a longer period of time may now be the new norm for future generations.

“Childbirth outside of marriage has been steadily increasing and is moving towards becoming a social norm,” Literte said. “However, it is important to also note that the majority of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.”

According to the report, there are two main reasons why people in their 20s and 30s are delaying marriage: the economy and culture.

Many couples are finding that not being married is less complicated because there is not as much paperwork involved, money to seperate, and it is easier to obtain government assistance, said Melinda Blackman, Ph.D., a CSUF psychology professor.

“Another reason might be that they would rather spend their money on raising children than having a lavish wedding … priorities in our culture might be changing as well,” Blackman said.

Edythe Krampe, Ph.D., a CSUF sociology lecturer, said it is harder for couples who are low-skilled workers to afford marriage.

She added that those couples are also less likely to get married when they have a child, she added.

“The biggest factor is social class,” Krampe said. “As class goes down, the likelihood of out-of-wedlock birth goes up.”

The report also suggests that some children born outside of marriage are more likely to experience family instability, school failure and emotional problems.

“Children born to cohabiting couples are three times more likely to see their parents break up, compared to children born to married parents,” the study reported.

About Kristen Cervantes

Krissy is finally graduating this semester from Cal State Fullerton. She is majoring in communications/print journalism and is excited to be an editor for the first time after spending two semesters on the Daily Titan staff. When she's not at home chasing her 20-month-old daughter around, she enjoys shopping and going to Disneyland with her husband and family. After graduation, she hopes to land a job with a magazine or newspaper and eventually have a successful career as an editor and columnist.