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Shenay Jeffrey, a 28-year-old Point Breeze resident in a committed relationship for the past two years, is already six years older than the age at which her mother got married.
No move toward wedlock is imminent for the college graduate who holds a Carnegie Mellon University master’s degree in public management. Instead, she plans to move with her partner, Brandon Jennings, into a Highland Park apartment this summer, a cohabitation choice that’s increased in popularity nationally for decades and will help both of their finances.
The idea of a binding, long-term commitment — especially one that customarily involves children? That’s taking a back seat to other pursuits, such as her consideration of applying to law school while Mr. Jennings completes a Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh.
“We’re both at a stage of our lives where marriage is not the most feasible, and we have a lot of individual goals we want to accomplish first,” said Ms. Jeffrey, currently employed in a Pitt student volunteer program. “I want to be set financially, and him as well, before we get into that big of a decision.”
This postponement of the age of marriage by young people compared to prior decades — partly spurred by improved educational and economic status in their 20s for women such as Ms. Jeffery — is just one of many long-term trends highlighted by national statistics in a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.
The April report, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” puts numbers to some often-discussed aspects of today’s millennial generation — ones that may inspire either frustration, sympathy or nodding approval from their baby boomer parents, who themselves often broke with their parents’ traditions. Examining census and other survey data about the 18-to-34 age group, the report notes:
• The percentage of women ages 20-24 who are married fell from 57 percent in 1976 to 17 percent in 2014, while those with a child fell from 31 percent to 25 percent. It is thus more common for a 25-year-old woman to be a mother than a wife.
• About one of three 18-to-34-year-olds relies on parents’ financial help, and a similar proportion live in their parents’ homes. The percentage living independently fell from 51 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2015.
• The economic situation of young men has plummeted, with 41 percent of those ages 25-34 earning less than $30,000 annually, compared to just 25 percent who were below that inflation-adjusted threshold in 1975. The status of women has spiked, meanwhile, as only 14 percent in that age group are homemakers now compared to 43 percent in 1975. Despite economic gains compared to young men, however, their earnings still trail those of males.
• Sharing a home with an unmarried partner has been the fastest-growing living arrangement over the past four decades, used by 12 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds in 2016 compared to less than 1 percent in 1975. The age group’s most common living arrangement, however, is living with parents, which has overtaken living with a spouse.
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Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1255.