The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center commissioned the Chicago youth-research firm TRU to get inside the heads of 18- to 30-year-olds. Through online surveys of 3,672 men and women over the summer, its researchers identified five groups:
14 percent who express strong sentiments against marriage.
22 percent who aren’t ready but say they eventually plan to wed.
23 percent who have a practical view of marital unions and often live together first.
19 percent who are enmeshed in the magic of love.
22 percent who have a strong belief in the institution of marriage.
The first thing to note: This is not a representative sample, so all the percentages cannot give us information on 18- to 30-year-olds in general. All we know are the percentage of people in the sample who felt a certain way.
Then, let’s take a closer look at the percentages even if this isn’t representative of the age group. The percentages sum to 100%, so the categories are not overlapping. So, if you’re “against marriage,” for example, you can’t be “enmeshed in the magic of love.” It also looks like the assumption is unless you’re against marriage, you believe in it, thus 86% believe in marriage. Is that really true? You can be “enmeshed in the magic of love” but want to express your love outside of marriage. If you have a practical view of marriage, maybe you realize that forgoing the 1,000+ benefits marriage brings might be shooting yourself in the foot. Hence, you marry for practical reasons even if you don’t like it. Only the 22% “who have a strong belief in the institution of marriage” can really be categorized into the “believe in marriage” category. That’s 8 percentage points higher than those who are strongly against marriage. Not an overwhelming difference in my opinion… Nevertheless, there clearly is a lot of matrimania out there, even in the young generation.
It would be interesting, though, to see similar numbers from a representative sample, especially if the categories aren’t mutually exclusive. Also an international comparison would be interesting.