The institution of marriage is set to take even more of a backseat for the current generation. Indeed, single Millennial women represent a powerful force in today’s society. Just ask Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Let’s face it, it’s a different world out there:
Pew Research Center report suggests that while 48% of baby boomers and 36% of Generation X married between the ages of 18 and 32, only 26% of Millennials got hitched at the same age.
Importantly, Millennial women are more educated than ever. There is less traditional pressure for them to conform to the institution of marriage, and shell out those 4.4 hours of unpaid work per day to benefit a man, free of charge to raise a family or seeking some role that is simply instinctive. Motherhood is perhaps by all accounts the most fulling of roles to be sure, however it’s a privilege Millennial women are more carefully considering.
Starting a family later is just a reality of juggling a career, paying off rising student loans and maybe, it’s getting more difficult to to meet that Mr. Right. It’s quite probable that there’s a significant gender gap between the ambition levels of the top women and men.
As more women put educational attainments first, career and financial stability ahead of romance, it’s relatively easy to get to a certain age and find the good men no longer exist in equal proportions. To put it another way, there’s an increasing proportion of professionals who are high achievers who are female. Ironically, this can negatively influence their dating life or simply makes Millennial women more resilient against the pressure to settle.
This is especially significant in more traditional collectivisitic cultures like India or China where women are under more pressure to conform to traditional roles. Increasingly, Millennial women are not ready to surrender their independence, unless they are sure it will be better than having a great life single. Single Millennial women are not alone:
64 percent of Millennials reported being single in 2014, and that number is up 12 percent from 2004
There’s no shame in being single anymore, it’s actually quite normal. That doesn’t mean there’s no stigma around Millennial single women and their reality. The respect for marriage as an institution is in a great decline. Many groups blame Millennial single women as if it’s their fault.
The median age at first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men — up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960
Millennial women are still monogamous, however they are the most open ever to open relationships, sexual fluidity and having multiple partners over a lifetime, we still want those connections to count. Life is so much more diverse, there are dating apps to easily meet new people and Millennial women have more financial power to choose their own path, and not conform too soon to an experience of domestic bliss, and let’s be honest here, an experience of service over their own independence.
There’s some evidence as well to suggest that Millennial single women may be the most pro-social group in society.
A recent study found that single people were more likely to have active social lives, as well as a greater tendency to offer help to friends, family and their communities.
What if, simply having our own family and serving “our people”, is less ethical, humanitarian and contributes less to society than truly being involved in the community, volunteering and playing a more active role in civic and professional life? Millennial women represent a shift in collective values.
Millennial women are at the forefront of social change, and when and if they do have children, they may make a conscious decision to do things differently. In corporate culture, there’s a transformation of corporate social responsibility going on in 2016.
What Millennial women look for in a partner has also changed. Being a dependable and responsible man is not enough. Young women want partners who can fuel their self-growth, experience their appetite for the world with them fully, and plan a life together that’s highly customized to their personal values.
Millennial women are the slowest of any generation to have children, with declining birth rate of more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, according to a report by the Urban Institute
It’s estimated that up to 25% of these Millennial women will never get married. With each decade, the percentage of people of marriageable age who are single has grown, and this trend really spikes up for this generation. “When today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (roughly 25%) is likely to have never been married.
For Millennial women who graduated after 2008, life is stark financially as well. Recently, the class of 2015 officially became the college graduates with the most student loan debt in history. Financial issues means more young people are simply not in a position to enthusiastically enter a committed relationship. They are still working on being better people and getting their careers on track, however this also leads to potentially, more lonely lives. This is the social cost of financial stress and it’s poorly understood. However, having more time for friends and doing good in society, can also be great for their subjective well-being.
Of course, for Millennial women there are huge downsides to the hookup culture of online dating and mobile apps, in that it postpones the entry into more serious relationships whereby children are more likely to be conceived. Millennial women typically have children in their 30s, however some women only discover the calling to be mothers at the brink of the end of their fertility. This is creating chaos for many Millennial women in their personal lives. A generation of professional women in a balancing act and race against time never before seen in human history.
The three main reasons people give for their singleness are that they haven’t found the right person (30%), aren’t financially stable enough (27%) and are not ready to settle down (22%)
The criteria for the Millennial woman to a) find the right person b) be financially stable enough c) be ready to settle town is more difficult than in previous generations. With rising costs of living, many Millennial men aren’t necessarily in positions to be great providers, and an entire generation of women programmed to be independent and strong, leads to any number of real-life conflicting scenarios and mismatches.
This is not to say that it is anyone’s fault, clearly the institution of marriage does not have a bright future and our lives are becoming more flexible in the course of each person’s lifestyle and greater fluency and ambiguity as to what each decade entails.
Indeed Patriarchy, conservative men in positions of power and even married women are openly critical of Millennial women who have chosen to be single. However, we have to remember, Millennial women are the trail-blazers of new more fulfilling and socially responsible paradigms of life. They are proving you don’t need to be married or have children, to be happy. You don’t need to follow tradition or relate your identity to men in a formal outdated way to take your place in the world.
What do you think about Millennial women who are single and what it means for society? What are some of the challenges they face?