For Better Or Worse (But Mostly Worse)

Tyler Durden's picture

Advancements in Web 2.0 technology and the rising popularity of online dating should make it easier now – more than ever - to find "The One."  So why, ConvergEx's Nick Colas asks, is the U.S. marriage rate still declining when technology is making the process of finding a mate so much more convenient and efficient? For one, cohabitation (both before marriage and instead of marriage) is increasingly popular. Also, there’s the urbanization trend which yields an influx of young, single professionals into major cities across the country; they’re apparently more focused on career than family. However, as Colas continues, falling marriage rates go hand-in-hand with a host of socio-economic issues, and the problem is exacerbated in those with lower levels of educational attainment. A continuation of this trend would undoubtedly have negative implications for society as a whole and further enhance the gap between rich and poor.

Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas,

If you’re in the market for a spouse, consider this: Online dating could save you $6,400 in the long run versus the traditional computer-unaided route.  The typical courtship for marriages that begin offline is 42 weeks, or two years longer than the average 18-week courtship for marriages that begin online, according to, which compiled various data from Reuters, PC World and the Washington Post..  At a conservative estimate of one date per week and a cost of $130 per date – $100 for a meal and drinks at a nice restaurant, plus $30 for two movie tickets and popcorn – the dating phase prior to an offline marriage runs up a $23,660 tab.  The average dating site customer spends just $239 a year for online memberships, which more than pays for itself to the tune of $12,803 in cost savings from fewer dates.  Assuming you go Dutch, each party saves a touch over $6,400 in choosing the online route to marital bliss.


Of course, there are some horrors associated with online dating – like the fact that a woman’s online desirability peaks at the ripe age of 21 or that 6% of women set their standards at finding simply “any man I can get” (again, courtesy of the compilation of data).  But even so, you might reasonably expect that the technological advances that gave rise to the popularity of online dating would translate to a growing number of marriages in the United States.  After all, it’s theoretically easier now than ever to find a mate, not to mention more cost effective.  Yet the percentage of married adults is still in structural decline.  In 2012, an all-time low of 50.5% of American adults ages 18 and up were married.  That’s down from 57.4% in 2000 and a peak of 72.2% in the 1960s (see Chart 1 following the text).  So what’s the story?   Why is marriage still a falling trend despite the growing popularity of online match-making websites?

First, cohabitation (both before marriage and instead of marriage) is increasingly popular.  According to the most recently available data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cohabitation was the first romantic union (meaning either living with a partner without being married or simply getting married) for 48% of women aged 15 through 44 from 2006 to 2010.  This was up from 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995.  Meanwhile, marriage as a first romantic union declined in popularity; 39% of first romantic unions were marriages in 1995, versus 30% in 2002 and 23% from 2006 to 2010 (refer to Chart 2).  The latest data from private research company Demographic Intelligence shows that 7.5 million couples lived together but were not married in 2010, which marked a 13% increase in just one year.


One explanation for this growth in cohabitation is the spike in divorce rates in the 1970s and 1980s.  The divorce rate peaked in 1979 and 1981 at 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people living in the U.S. (see Chart 3).  This is right around the time when the parents of the current generation of 20-somethings and 30-somethings would have had children, so perhaps seeing their parents and/or friends’ parents go through a divorce has made today’s young people more cautious when it comes to finding a mate.  Today, the divorce rate has settled somewhat around 3.5 per 1,000 population; the most logical explanation seems to be quite simply the decline in marriages.


Second, urbanization remains a growing trend and is responsible for the influx of young, predominately single professionals into major cities across the country.  Anecdotal data shows that much of this 20-something cohort is primarily focused on their careers rather than starting a family.  Indeed, the average age at first marriage for men and women is 28.6 and 26.6, respectively, compared to 25.2 and 22.5 three decades ago, according to the Census Bureau.  Adding to this trend has been the growing number of women in the labor force over the past several decades.  No longer as reliant on a husband as a source of income, women, too, are delaying the white-picket-fence stage of life in favor of establishing a career. 


Lastly, there’s the unproductive side of technology when it comes to love and marriage.  Location-based smartphone applications (such as Tinder) that allow you to instantly find other singles in your area – or even in the same bar – encourage instant gratification and nonexclusive relationships.  Technology has also given rise to online dating sites for married people seeking other married people (such as Ashley Madison) which probably don’t do anything constructive for the rate of productive, healthy marriages. 

Falling marriage rates go hand-in-hand with a host of socio-economic issues, so a decline in the popularity of marriage is quite important from an economic standpoint.  A drop in marriages has resulted in a rise in the out-of-wedlock birth rate – in 2011, 40.7% of all U.S. live births were to unmarried women.  Data from the Pew Research Center reveals that 35% of children live in single-parent homes and that 71% of poor families (those in the lowest quintile by income) lack married parents.  Additionally, the poverty rate for single-parent households in which a woman is the head of household is roughly five times that of traditional, two-parent households.

Adding to the problem is the fact that marriage rates are declining faster among those with lower levels of educational attainment – and therefore lower levels of income, as education is typically correlated with financial resources .  In 1970, 88% of college-educated men were married, compared with 85% of men who had not received a college degree.  For women the split was 82% and 83%, and in other words it didn’t appear that educational attainment was correlated with marriage.  However, by 2010 69% of adults with a college degree were married, versus just 56% of those without a college degree.  Furthermore, even among adults whose first romantic union is cohabitation, those with college degrees are much more likely to turn the cohabitation into marriage – 53% versus 39% for those with a high school diploma (refer to Chart 4).
Declining marriage rates among those with lower levels of educational attainment is a warning sign that is worth watching, especially if the trend continues.  But we’ll end this note with two bits of encouraging news.  First, the sheer number of newly married adults increased in 2012, climbing to 4.32 million from 4.21 million the prior year.  America’s aging population is undoubtedly weighing on the overall marriage rate, so it’s somewhat comforting to see a small rise in total marriages (see Chart 5).  Also, the sheer number of Americans getting divorced increased in 2012 for a third consecutive year.  Though troublesome from a societal standpoint, from an economic perspective this indicates that perhaps the economy has recovered sufficiently enough for warring spouses to finally be comfortable going their separate ways.

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fijisailor's picture

The problem is too many fat slobs.

Dr. Engali's picture

It won't be long before we start reading about the younger generation's lack of desire for sex and love for gadgets. Seems like I heard this story before.

Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

"too mant fat slobs"


Don't confuse a symptom w the problem. High carbohydrate diets are the product of "corporatism" as is the declining marriage rate.

Rafferty's picture

Any man in America or the west generally would be nuts to get married. In today's legislative framework it's setting youself up to be picked clean in the event of the wife deciding to up stakes. 

TheRideNeverEnds's picture

Must be why Tesla stock is up another $30 in the premarket. 



SWRichmond's picture

1949 Simone deBeauvoir publishes "The Second Sex".  

1963 Betty Friedan publishes "The Feminie Mystique".

Grande Tetons's picture

1972 Larry Flynt publishes the Hustler Newsletter. 

Every movement is bound to have blowback. 

whoisjohngalt11's picture

Try looking in on the Manosphere and see what is really going on. or  Men Going There Own Way

Curiously_Crazy's picture

Yeah I checked out The red pill some months back when someone posted about it. Not bad if you're stuck in the women are godesses meme but I suspect a lot on this site - as with myself - are just cunts naturally so most of the advice and ideas put forward are redundant. Was still still cool see other blokes that don't fall for all the conditioning bullshit though.... even if they did have to learn it.

markpower49's picture

Women don't want to marry when they are at their peak (16-24) because they want to have fun and smart men won't marry them later on after they gave it away for free to badboys when they were younger, tighter and hotter.

buzzsaw99's picture

can't marry baby daddy or else the free shit stops rolling in

Bonapartist's picture

I know of a few suburban couples that get divorces strictly to ride the gubmint cheese train

Grande Tetons's picture

Yep, easier to have ole shitbucket on the couch collecting off his own scam. 

GeezerGeek's picture

To me, it seems like Progressives have been working overtime - through the government, through other centers of influence like Hollywood, etc. - to destroy all the voluntary social units that held groups of humanity together in mutually beneficial arrangements. The tax code puts married people at a disadvantage. As you point out, and as earlier articles on ZH have pointed out, the Free Stuff system works against voluntary groupings such as the traditional family. Hollywood and the government now wage an all-out attack on traditional morality. Even superficially benevolent acts such as preschool daycare and free condoms for everyone act in the same direction. The way things look to me, in the near future about 90+% of the US population will be little more than zombies, relieved of any need for personal responsibility and conditioned to revel in theri ignorance. TPTB will have won.

At least in Brave New World there was a place for people who rejected the collectivist system. No such luck in the real world, I'm afraid.


Zadig's picture

"in the near future about 90+% of the US population will be little more than zombies, relieved of any need for personal responsibility and conditioned to revel in theri ignorance"


I think the "near future" was about 5-10 years ago.  9-11 and the Bushobama have created a shambling wreck of a society where most of the population are either red team/blue team fundies, drugged zombies, or both. 



Bonapartist's picture

bitches be trippin'- bitchez

new game's picture

stategic planning, live together-moar free shit...

Bonapartist's picture

mediocrity- it's the new "killin' it" for the 21st century

NoDebt's picture

More like Japan every day.

Lordflin's picture

We live in a world bereft of moral standing... what has taken its place somewhat defies description.

Myself... I have been married three times. My first wife was a beautiful lady... we were devoted to each other... she died in a drowning accident.

Met my second wife through a dating service before the advent of computer dating... was married to her for thirteen years, had my children by her, sued for divorce and won total custody of my children... should give you some sense of that marriage, as it is nearly impossible for a man to win custody of his kids.

My third wife I met through a computer dating channel. In a years time I was sent almost 1000 matches... a number of very interesting women, doctors, scientist, psychologist, even some pastors... and one opera singer... all professionals, and all women I had many things in common with. Needed to find a woman who could be a mother to my children and a wife to me... finally met her, and have been joyfully married for seven years... She was British, living in the UK at the time... I was/am in Northern Idaho.

Computers can be of great assistance...

On the other hand, I look at my children and they seem incapable of maintaining a committed or even an honest relationship. What a world they live in... nobody argues the truth anymore... truth is only interesting if something of expedience can be gleened from it... in fact, I read an article in a popular psyche rag some years ago that suggested that from an evolutionary standpoint liars got the best mates... could only presume it was written by an unfaithful spouse. Than there is gender confusion... I believe Google has 50 gender catagories.

I believe my father summed the whole thing up when he reflected to my mother two years before his death... 'The only one who ever cared about me was my sister'. Dad was a much more evolved 'modern man' than myself. In fact, I have never really asked that question.

The question I find of far greater interest is... who have I ever cared for...

Perhaps that is why I have had two successful marriages, and children with whom I have a wonderful relationship.

chubbar's picture

Good story, thanks for sharing it.


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Thank you for sharing your story. I had the extreme fortune to meet my devoted husband at 16 and marry him at 22. The price he paid for this was being disowned by his family and having to care for a very damaged young girl who was physically and mentally abused. He stayed with me through some pretty tough times. I once asked him why. He said he saw an incredible person underneath and was willing to wait for her to come out. What I did right was never have an affair, never be greedy or materialistic and when I wasn't suffering terrible depression, showed him incredible love, sex and devotion and affirmed him as a man. He said the joyous vibrancy I had which he could not find in his life sustained him. So, in a sense we rescued and helped each other. I guess today that would be considered codependent and frowned upon.

Today there are things I cannot do and am eternally grateful when my husband helps me. He relies on me in areas where he has difficulty and I gladly do what I can. We just simply honor each other, understand and see to each other's needs. Why this is so challenging today is tragic. " You make my life worth living, I love you so much" is what I heard this morning when I woke up. This cannot be replaced by any shiny bauble, fancy trip or chateau in the mountains. I am richer than Soros could ever hope to attain.


Lordflin's picture

Doubt you will get a chance to read this, but just in case you do just wanted to tell you that I shared your beautiful story with my wife who was much appreciative.

babylon15's picture

HD lesbian porn, fleshlights, and legal marijuana.  God bless America!!!

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

The trick has always been to marry your second wife first. Barring that, bored housewives willing to do "light housework" once or twice a week for cash. This way they go home to hubby afterward and you regain the solipsistic atmosphere of your keep. 

Smegley Wanxalot's picture

As a guy I learned once the hard way: Marriage means putting everything you have into the hands of some chick who can then take it and fuck you over, and in the hands of a judicial system that hates your ass and will side with her 95% of the time because you have a penis.

Fuck that.  Since then, the game is Date & Dump 'em before common law marriage kicks in, and then on to the next.  No amount or quality of pussy is worth half or more of what I have.  Hookers for life would be far cheaper, and you don't have to deal with their shit attitudes and other crap.

BandGap's picture

Pity you.

Six kids, two marriages, going to leave this world the same way I came in - with nothing.

Love my wife, love my kids, love my God.  Ready for action.

FredFlintstone's picture

Yeh, how many teenagers? I got some pity for you too. Sanctimonious arse.

buzzsaw99's picture

it's a good thing god put unlimited resources on this earth for your six spawn to devour. [/sarc]

jez's picture

"So why, ConvergEx's Nick Colas asks, is the U.S. marriage rate still declining when technology is making the process of finding a mate so much more convenient and efficient?"




Dare I hope that it is because men are coming to realize what a lousy risk marriage is for them? Smegley is right -- a maid to cook and clean and (if you're interested) a couple of hookers on a Saturday night will be far cheaper than an ass-raping in the so-called "family courts".


Advances in technology are beside the point. The goods on offer are of no interest.

chubbar's picture

Well, there are actually families that have great relationships and marriages, like the one alluded too below. However, in my experience they more likely reflect the one you describe above. I also have found myself giving half of my wealth to someone who never contributed to that pile other than being a mate. I don't quite understand it other than to say that the folks who write the laws must be some severely pussywhipped motherfuckers. Who could come up with the idea that anyone could come away with more than they contributed, especially in this day and age where everyone works? Just fucking crazy. I'm never marrying again.

Tim_'s picture

Women want to get married, but they don't want to be married.

Women are married to the government.

Advance Report of Final Divorce Statistics, 1988

"Approximately 61 percent of the divorces in 1988 were petitioned by the wife..."

"The proportion of divorces petitioned by the wife was 65 percent when there were children involved..."

"For the 27 States and the District of Columbia that reported race on divorce records, approximately 87 percent of divorcing wives were white..."

I couldn't find more recent statistics.

HoleInTheDonut's picture

I've looked back and did the math for the girlfriends I had since the divorce.  Each one seems to have cost me right around $100 a lay.  When I do the math on the ex-wife (married for 11 years), it comes out to more like $350.  What a rip-off.  $100-200 a shot for a hooker, makes complete economic sense.  Just buy a bit of a relationship as needed, $100 at a time.  If someone tried to sell you a car for $300,000 and it would be the last car you need for the rest of your life, would you take the deal?  Of course not, just buy a new one every few years or go without and rent one every weekend or so.

Curiously_Crazy's picture

Never spent a cent on a chick and proud of it. My last one bought me a PS3 (thought I infrequently play games) and a load of fishing gear (though I infrequently fish) and even bought her own engagement ring. That was when I knew it was time to move on. In a nutshell, don't to fork out to begin with and they won't take advantage of it.

AdvancingTime's picture

Don't spend money on them unless it is doing something you want to do. They don't respect you more and you can't buy love, but you can buy sex.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Sex for me with out love to fuel the passion would not be possible. I know for guys this is easier but I know lots of guys who brag to me they only use women for sex just don't seem happy or content. Most are angry and I suspect there are some sad stories behind the aura. Men thrive on passionate love and respect from a woman. I have watched it happen. I am sorry woman today don't seem to be this way anymore. My husband claims I'm a dying breed.


Mediocritas's picture

I'm not surprised that poorer people are married less. In 2012, the average money spent on a wedding was ~$27,000. ( )

Social decay may be a factor, price-gouging suppliers adding a "wedding premium" is another, overly high female expectations programmed by Hollywood propaganda (starting with Disney princesses and fairies in childhood) is surely another, but my preferred explanation goes something like this: fuck you Bernanke.

Drifter's picture

Why is this article on ZH?

This isn't HuffPo.  I thought.

markpower49's picture

Because the main reason we make money is to get the highest value women. If we could get laid in a cardboard box, we'd never buy a house.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You don't get high value women. You get women who want a free ride. Materialistic whores who never will be sated. Are you truly desirous of a vacuous, air headed woman to be eye candy on your arm? Of so, then enjoy it. Why complain if she is what she is. Is the only other choice a 400lb land whale? I'm no beauty. Just an average woman who stays in shape and makes an effort to be feminine and make my man happy. He never has shown an interest attracting a " high value" woman to replace me.


Andre's picture

 Below is the most rational explanation I've found. This isn't short, but there is an economic effect to this.


besnook's picture

men have always been desperate for sex. the internet exposed women to be even more desperate for companionship with sex as the bait. men take the bait. smart men take a lot of bait. with the endurance. patience and tolerance required for a real long term relationship, a continual series of adhd type sexual/ friend type relationships makes a lot of sense for a man as long as women are desperate enough to supply the bait for an effortless hook up.

you have to be insane or religious(the same?) to have kids today. this is another good reason not to get married. women are now free to suffer the logical consequence of feminism while men enjoy the benefits.

Indian_Goldsmith's picture

So true. Can't imagine living with the same nagging bitch for a long time. 

AdvancingTime's picture

When a woman gets to the point she can,t stand a man she will kick him to the curb. Often a man will keep a bitch around just for the pussy.

Lordflin's picture

Not certain if the sanctimonious comment was for me... My post was certainly not meant that way... and I rely on folks here to fill in the gaps as this tends to be quite a bright crowd...

What I meant by my closing comments is that folks seem... A great many, certainly not all, to be living for themselves... in fact I guess I did that when I was younger... Difficult to think back that far...

My first wife taught me a great deal in that regard... one of the gentlest, most generous creatures I have ever known. In fact, I remember being angered by it at first as I was forced to think about her... having been an only child and something of a recluse it was a thing for which I had little experience.

What I did not learn from her my own children taught me, as I began
to realize that they needed a good deal of my time... and still do it seems, even though they are all out of the home.

And I have come to realize a couple of things... first of all that relationship is built from that you are willing to give it. In a world that
has become obsessed with itself that is far often too little. And secondly, that as we reflect back on our lives it is that which we have given/shared with those around us that maintains it's value down through the years. The rest is just window dressing. Given the nature
of things young people are too often entering relationship with their heads filled with fantasies of fulfillment rather than concern for how they might fulfill their mates... and ultimately their children, assuming they ever get that far.

I had a close friend many years ago whose marriage vow was... not till death do we part, but rather, till we grow tired of each other...

Sad really, as so many folks are going to miss out on everything that makes life worth living.

Put this along side the fact that people's lives are being financially wrecked by group of sociopathic fiends and is in many respects surprising that marriage has survived to the extent it has...

Indian_Goldsmith's picture

Variety of pussy is more interesting and enjoyable than the same pussy over and over again. 

MisterMousePotato's picture

Errol Flynn was reputed to have bedded some 2,000 women. A reporter once asked him who was the best, to which he replied, "My wife, Lilly."

How sad.

The Wisp's picture

My Vote for best comment..


The goods on offer are of no interest.