The future of marriage, the future of Millennials: two topics the Internet loves to freak out about. Thanks to a new report from Pew, here the twain shall meet: Researchers asked people of all ages whether society is better off if people focus on getting married and having kids.
American Attitudes Toward Marriage and Kids
Looking at this chart is a little like taking a Rorschach inkblot test on the topic of "American values": You could see a lot of different things, if you wanted. The most obvious would be Chicken-Little style fears about the coming end of marriage: With just 29 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds affirming the importance of matrimony and maternity, it would be easy to say a quick eulogy for wedding vows. This narrative of decline may be true for certain people in America—those living in poverty, in particular—but for the wealthy and the educated, the institution of marriage is still in very good shape.
You could also read this graph as a manifesto of "not right now": In 2010, the average marriage age was 26-and-a-half for women and nearly 29 for men. It's understandable that 22-year-olds might be blasé about the benefits of marriage and kids—and equally understandable that their 65-year-old counterparts are twice as likely to say it's important. As marriage-shy Millennials age, they might warm to the idea of lifelong commitment.