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The Daily Tar Heel

Millennials marrying later in life

In 2012, one in five Americans age 25 and older had never been married, compared with one in 10 in 1960, said Wendy Wang, senior researcher at Pew. And she said the trend is likely to continue.

The median age of a first marriage among men and women has drastically changed in the last five decades, she added. Women now tend to be 27 years old, compared to 20, and men are 29, compared to 23.

“I want to have a lot more figured out for myself before I commit to a life with someone else,” said sophomore Julie Canziani.

Wang said some couples are choosing an alternative to marriage — almost a quarter of young adults ages 25-34 are living with a partner without any type of legal contract. Some are raising children this way.

Canziani said she thinks marriage is not something young people should rush into, and she does not want to end up unhappily married later in life but have legal obligations to stay with the person.

“I think you can live happily with someone without being married to them,” she said.

Wang said most young people do want to get married — only 8 percent are resistant to the concept — but men and women have distinct priorities in finding a partner.

She said 78 percent of unmarried women emphasized the importance of finding someone with a steady job, compared to 46 percent of men.

“It’s very interesting that it seems that men and women have very different criteria when they’re looking for a potential spouse,” she said.

Among people in the 18-29 age bracket, two-thirds said they agreed with the viewpoint that “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

“Starting a life with someone can be very expensive, and paying off student loans and finding a good job may have to come first,” said UNC sophomore Kaitlin Sivret.

And Canziani said she doesn’t think the tax, work and social security benefits of a legally binding marriage are enough to motivate taking that step.

Wang said men tend to be more focused on finding someone with similar ideas about having and raising children.

But the emotional side of marriage is still present.

Wang said researchers found one of the top reasons people are marrying at later ages is that they have not found the right person yet — and Sivret said she agrees with that reasoning.

“I think that I have been around people, especially my parents, who stress the importance of being — and staying — in a committed relationship,” Sivret said. “They have showed me that marriage is something you should not necessarily rush into, but once you do get married, it is something that you be committed to for the rest of your life.”

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