Falling marriage rates and employability of men

by Ryan Streeter on September 25, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

After decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high. In 2012, one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married.

That’s from a Pew survey released yesterday. Here are the trend lines:

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The survey also shows that 78% of never-married women say “a steady job” is very important when considering a potential spouse. The falling labor force participation rate of young men is thus tied up with the falling marriage rate:

Among never-married adults ages 25 to 34, the number of employed men per 100 women dropped from 139 in 1960 to 91 in 2012, despite the fact that men in this age group outnumber young women in absolute numbers. In other words, if all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, 9% of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group. Five decades ago, never-married young women had a much larger pool of potential spouses from which to choose.