For Millennials, Marriage Is Becoming a “Luxury Item”

The coming-of-age of the millennial generation has brought many changes to the American cultural landscape. One major shift that has evolved is a change in the American family; many millennials are delaying marriage, if they choose to tie the knot at all.

For the generation under 35, nearly half of all births are outside of marriage. Factor in education, however, and a much different picture emerges: among young women without a college degree, 55 percent of births occur outside of marriage. For women with at least a four year college degree, that number is only 9 percent. These and other statistics support concerns of a growing class divide, one in which only the rich can afford to say “I do” before having children.

Many millennials that are now starting to have children grew up in the 80s and 90s, a time when the United States hit it’s highest divorce rate. This may be one cause of declining rates of marriage, as many new parents who were themselves children of divorced parents do not want to put their children through similar amounts of stress.

Some point to money as the major cause for a decline in marriage levels, particularly among those with less education. Fifty years ago, a high school graduate could get a manufacturing job and expect a decent, middle-class income. Today, unemployment rates for those with only a high school degree are double the rates for those with a bachelor’s degree, and the pay for high school grads is not what it was 50 years ago.

These lower rates of marriage amongst those with less education can be particularly troubling when looking at the impact on their children. The problem is not that people are having children without being married. Instead it is the fact that, on average in the U.S., unwed couples are much more likely than their married counterparts to split up by the time their child is five years old. This can create a less stable environment for the child to grow up in, which research shows can have a variety of negative impacts on a child’s development.

While these implications can be discouraging, it is worth noting that many young adults still aspire to get married. The shift is in the attitude toward the institution of marriage rather than acting as a vehicle towards stability and adulthood. Many millennials perceive marriage as the proverbial “cherry on top,” the final addition to a stable, secure life.

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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