The Wall Street Journal March 9, 2020 pp1+A10. “Marriage is Becoming More Like a Luxury Good in U.S.” “Affluent Americans still say ‘I do.’ “More in the middle class, amid financial insecurity, are forsaking the institution and its benefits.”
Despite the many benefits of being married, since 2002 "traditional" marriage amongst Americans 18-44YO has fallen from 59% to 40% in 2017 but cohabitation has risen from 54% to 59%. Those that are married are more affluent. Median wealth, adjusted for inflation, “of married couples is four times that of couples who live together but aren’t married”. Financial uncertainty is the most often reason mentioned by couples waiting to marry. “Economic conditions, even in the good economy, remain difficult for many Americans” according to Daniel Schneider of U.C. Berkeley.
Other reasons for the shift away from marriage include; pay equality in low wage jobs, declining church attendance, having been part of a divorced family, and increasing acceptance of cohabitation.
Holding steady since 1976, 75% of high school seniors still intend to marry but even among the more educated and affluent, marriage is being delayed. Marriage may now be a "Luxury Good" or “Capstone” after successfully achieving ambitious individual goals..