Since the 1960s, Idaho, like the rest of the United States, has seen dramatic changes in marriage customs. They, in turn, affect the makeup of households, which determines the strength of consumer spending, home stability for children and the educational attainment and size of the available workforce.
Attitudes toward marriage have changed dramatically in the past two or three decades.
While marriage once was a first step into adulthood, it now is one of the last steps. Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins, wrote in an April 27, 2013, New York Times article that “marriage has become the capstone experience of personal life — the last brick put in place after everything else is set. … Young adults with greater earning potential, who can afford the capstone celebration, are still marrying in large numbers while those with poorer economic prospects are holding off. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, 88 percent of 35- to 44-year-old women with four-year college degrees have married, compared with 79 percent of those without high-school diplomas. In fact, young adults without college degrees are increasingly likely to put off marriage and have their first children in cohabiting relationships, sometimes years before they marry. Nearly all of the increase in childbearing outside of marriage in the last two decades is from births to cohabiting couples, most without college degrees, rather than to single mothers.
“More than 90 percent of American women with four-year college degrees wait until after they are married to have children. … Moreover, their marriages are lasting longer — since 1980 the divorce rate has dropped faster for those with college degrees so that about one in six of their marriages ends in divorce in the first 10 years compared with nearly one in two marriages among people without high school degrees.”