How Your Hometown Affects Your Chances of Marriage

People are less likely to marry if they grow up in certain places, especially liberal ones.

Comments: 191

  1. And yet marriage-hating liberals may be more likely to support spending on family friendly policies like paid maternity leave.

  2. I'd love to see the data for people under 35 and under 40. I think there might be higher rates of marriage for people in large cities at those ages.

  3. No one lives in the mountain west, their population would match Suffolk County.
    How does population density impact marriage? Too many choices no marriage? Only one option you grab it?

  4. Could be that people in New York, Washington and San Francisco have more exciting options than to get married and breed.

  5. Or more likely, it may be because having to pony up at least $2000/mo to live in a small one bedroom in NYC, DC, SF or Boston and working 60+ hrs a day to pay off this kind of rent is prohibitive to starting a family. That plus massive educational debt makes it really hard to unite two people's finances.

  6. It's worth noting here that marriage is couched as the desirable norm in this article, with references to the differences described as "encouraging" or "discouraging" marriage. But one could imagine a version of this article in which remaining unmarried is described as a positive choice.

  7. Agreed. It's written with an oddly judgmental tone.

  8. While the marriage rates may be factual enough, The Upshot begs a few questions here:

    -- why describe low rates of marriage as correlating with politically "liberal" areas rather than with "progressive" areas? Is the correlation really with tax-funded social safety nets or is it with greater local acceptance of multiple life choices around relationships, sexuality, legal marriage and parenthood?

    -- why claim that more liberal areas "discourage" marriage simply because there are lower marital rates there? Can you really mean marriage is actively discouraged? It may be correct to say that more culturally conservative areas actively encourage marriage, but that does not make the opposite true.

    -- why not include Census data on cohabitation? Not all committed couples are legally married. Increasingly, many benefits of marriage are available to domestic partners.

    -- why not include corresponding data on divorce rates? To the extent that legal marriage is a social good (and hence of public interest), those marriages are only as good as their longevity. If the result is divorce, maybe the marriage did not well serve either the public or the personal objectives of marriage -- it may even have been, on balance, destructive. The so-called Bible Belt, for example, has high marriage rates (and high marriage rates among young people), but also the highest divorce rates. Massachusetts, liberal bastion that it is, has the lowest divorce rates.

  9. Well that's a lot to ask, F., as that would require deeper thought and deeper analysis. Much, much easier for the NYTimes to lob an article like this out there to stir the pot of conservatives vs. liberals as a culture war and who are the "better" folk. I would seriously question the motives and motivation of even deciding an article like this needs to even be written: as a general sociological "fun facts to know and tell" interest piece? Is there possibly a coincidence that they choose to toss this out there in the context of the SCOTUS case deciding the right to same-sex marriage? Ya think? All I can see that this article serves is as a rallying cry and data points for conservatives to make inflammatory claims about liberals living in a modern age Sodom and Gomorrah.

  10. Continues to seem logical, if people dont wed at an early age, later in life finding what someone envisions as a suitable partner, becomes increasingly difficult. With a 50% divorce rate and an unknown % hanging in for kid,s or busting up an estate, marriage is not all that easy.

  11. I would like to see an overlay on the number of times people marry and divorce rates in each of these areas. Last time I checked, those of us in Massachusetts who pushed the country into destroying marriage by allowing gays to marry have the lowest divorce rate in the country. I would guess that places where people marry earliest, they also marry most often (except maybe in strong Mormon communities).

  12. None of this is surprising. Urban living is a solvent for social convention, and marriage is a social convention. Throughout history, people have congregated in cities to trade and engage in commerce and similar pursuits, which subtract from the amount of effort and energy put into carrying on stable traditions and adhering to cultural convention. Additionally, cities tend to be cosmopolitan, and this mixing of cultures demands that individuals relax their tight allegiance to the mores and practices of their natal societies. Cosmopolitanism doesn't work well if everyone is holding on tightly to their own cultures' exclusionary beliefs and practices.

    Marriage, as a constraining convention, is motivated by religious beliefs and mores (see Utah), and the symbols and rituals that surround and motivate marriage differ by religion. High marriage rates will ALWAYS be limited to relatively culturally (and religiously) homogenous areas.

    This is why the sociologist Edward Hall said that cities are essentially parasitic, both culturally and biologically, on rural areas. He pointed out that cities everywhere have always had lower birth rates, and have depended on ongoing in-migration from rural and other places. This is true, and it's because the purpose of cities is not to make more humans or to perpetuate traditional cultures. The purpose of cities is to innovate and trade – both of which are solidly liberal (in both the classical and contemporary sense) endeavors.

  13. Correlation does not mean causation. There may be other factors at work that may be the cause. For example, highly educated women tend to have lower marriage rates than their cohorts. Also, red states have higher marriage rates as well as higher divorce rates. The data may also be distorted by inner city African-Americans who marry at much lower rates. Certain states treat cohabiting couples as married under common law while others don't.

  14. I'm a big believer in "culture" as opposed to "religion" as the defining element of society. These types of results demonstrate the point.

    I'm not a Mormon and I grew up in the only reliably Democrat county in Utah. But my life tracks these results exactly. I've been married for 45 years now.

    Even a casual glance at the wide gaps between actual religious doctrine and "on the ground" culture -- everywhere, not just in the U.S. -- will demonstrate that religion is not something handed down from "on high", it's something created every day and enforced by peer pressure and unspoken social laws. There's nothing in Muslim religion enforcing things like female circumcision or violent jihad. There's nothing in Catholic religion that keeps priests from marrying. And the Mormon "Word of Wisdom" says absolutely nothing about not drinking coffee or tea. (It actually reads like a tract in favor of a vegetarian lifestyle. Read it!) China has a culture that is not based on religious doctrine at all but one that is no less authoritarian.

    So, as a young man growing up in Utah, my life was steered into marriage. (Much to my satisfaction, I might add.) Hillary Clinton wrote a book once titled, "It Takes a Village". Yes it does!

  15. I believe the divide between rich and poor in marriage rates is at least partially caused by the huge medical expenses involved in childbirth. I have noted that MOST of the working class people in the south that I know now have their children prior to marriage. Medicaid (this is still true in 26 states that have refused the Medicaid expansion) pays for childbirth for the unmarried poor woman but not for the married woman. With an uncomplicated birth now running $15,000 , marrying before having kids is a financial disaster for hourly workers with no health insurance.

    The other thing that I have noted is how many working class people I know that are already divorced prior to age 30.

  16. I highly doubt that the expense of childbirth has anything to do with marriage rates in poorer areas.

    I grew up in the Rust Belt, and the #1 reason why poorer/working-class women here often don't get married is the economy. There's just simply no practical reason to get married, if your future spouse isn't likely to get a steady job or contribute much financially to the household. If you just want kids or companionship, you don't need to be married for that.

    50% of pregnancies in this country are still unplanned, so it's not like poorer women are usually planning out the future costs of childbirth on a spreadsheet or something. There are any number of reasons to explain why poorer women are less likely to delay childbirth than middle-class women-- e.g., limited educational and career opportunities, spotty access to contraception, religious pressures against young people getting real sex education or using birth control, etc.

    I agree about people who marry young having higher rates of divorce-- that certainly gibes with my anecdotal experience, and I believe it's supported by studies as well. (Though it's highly correlated with education levels).

  17. I'd be interested to see the rates of divorce and remarriage compared to these rates of marriage.

  18. This is marriage by age 26. How about married at age 40?

  19. I agree. The authors understate the impact of age. In metropolitan regions, educated women are not getting married until their mid thirties.

  20. Perhaps there is more to the study - did they control for larger gay populations in large cities, which have not taken up the marriage institution as fully yet? Cutting off at 26 is also likely to contribute to a skewed conclusion - while my evidence is antidotal, I think it is pretty certain that people marry later in NYC. And, as one who was unhappy to have to marry (as was my partner) as an expected step, I came to appreciate that as people become more established financially our laws force partners into marriage to protect their assets. That also is more likely to occur later in life.

  21. I would say that this analysis is weak in that it cuts off marriage at age 26. In my SES, the overwhelming majority - maybe all, actually - marred after age 26. We are all college educated and most of us have masters.

  22. Small town culture pretty much excludes those of marriageable age who are not married.The desire for inclusion in community tends to push toward a married solution. In an urban setting with many choices and less pressure to "be part of a couple", there will be fewer marrying.

  23. I wonder how the increasing acceptance of same sex marriage will change these numbers. I imagine there are lots of people in New York, San Francisco, DC, etc. who would have married if they had been allowed to.

  24. I was amazed to find no mention of housing costs in this article. Though not the only factor, if a man cannot afford to buy a house and faces living with his new spouse in either 'mom's' house or 'dad's' house, will he propose? If a woman is seeing a guy who realistically cannot afford to get them a home will she marry him? It would be interesting to know how these 'at age 26' numbers might compare to 'at age 36' numbers. Have couples simply deferred marriage because they want to 'save up' for a house of their own? Finally, if young people (age 26) do get married, move in with mom and/or dad, and then divorce under the pressures of being 'unsuccessful' in their quest for independence (from mom and dad), is that something to crow about?

  25. I was really poor when I got married and so we rented a very cheap apartment. We lived in an apartment for twenty years until we could save up for the down payment on a very cheap house.

    I live in a really nice house now. I saved up!

  26. Interesting that this comment reflects the antiquated assumption that it will be the husband's responsibility to provide for the couple financially. In most cases in 2015, both partners contribute financially and in many cases the woman is the primary breadwinner.

  27. Note the prominent use of the word, "we" in my comment.

    My wife was the primary breadwinner for years, especially right after I was drafted into the Army. (Which paid low ranking enlisted very poorly in those days.)

  28. Cost of living seems to have more to have a stronger correlation than political affiliation. That is strange because marrying should lower cost of living significantly (one rent/mortgage bill, imputed income, preferential tax rates, etc.). Having children is expensive, but marriage should be more likely in high cost of living areas.

  29. Well, in many cases, couples in those areas *are* living together and splitting the bills-- they're just not married. You don't need a marriage license to halve an electric bill. (And plenty of people have roommates whom they're not romantically involved with).

    It's far more complicated than just splitting costs, though. A lot of those couples are delaying marriage to pursue higher education and career goals, which involves time (not just money).

    Finishing college (or an advanced degree), getting a foot in the door professionally, establishing a career, etc., can take several years. Many couples feel more secure getting those things squared away before they commit to marriage or start having children.

  30. I find this analysis to be less than telling.

    1.) I think cutting off at 26, particularly for those major cities with highly educated people is really a very low number.

    2.) What does getting married men, in and of itself, when it comes to economic stability? Doesn't the length,duration of the marriage matter more? And research has shown that those that marry later in life and live in the NE have much longer marriages and fewer marriages than any other part of the country.

  31. For men, marriage is the single greatest financial risk they can take.

  32. "For men, marriage is the single greatest financial risk they can take" unless they marry a spouse with a large trust fund. In that case, they may need to cater to that spouse rather than pursue a serious career.

  33. I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, moved to San Francisco after college, then to Boston for graduate school, then briefly back to suburban Washington, DC and finally to New York where I have been for the last 20 years (and have been married since 2002 when I was 38). In short, every place I've lived discourages marriage. My theory is that, at least for the urban areas, there are more things to do culturally which make it less vital to have a family in order to have something to do when not working. There also is the illusion that one is around other people and "connected" that way. I say illusion because the paradox is that in a city one is actually less connected in public. In a small town, if one is walking down the street it is generally expected that you would say "Good morning," etc. to a passer by, in a city the expectation is generally the opposite. Accordingly, in urban areas, while there are more people around, one tends to be more anonymous and less connected, at least in the public sense.

  34. I would imagine that many people from a small town (where everybody knows your business, and maybe your parents' and grandparents' business as well) might find that level of anonymity rather refreshing!

  35. These maps and the article aren't clear about whether the 26 year olds are sited by where they grew up or where they landed.
    - The dark purple (esp Mormon) counties are the least likely for populations to ever move in or ever move out. Everywhere else children and young adults would have more relocations.
    - The rural married at 26 in a negative slant could be called "the Left Behind" with nothing else to do and anybody better to choose from.
    - The rural to urban unmarried at 26 could be called "the Pushed Out" for better opportunities or learning from their community that they are "unmarriageable" for whatever reason
    -Urban and unmarried at 26 know they have many options. Marrying at 28 or 30? maybe to someone of their own gender? Or staying legally single longer or all their lives with or without partner(s)?

    Are all the new workers in Seattle, NY, and SF that just finished their educations and came from some place else at 25-27 never going to get married? Hardly. Many probably will in their early 30s, just not to somebody who grew up in the same hometown, same religion, same country, or same politics.

  36. Sadly there is no place that you are not safe from marriage, well maybe a monastery. A more interesting question would be how this collaborates with being poor.

  37. "correlates" rather than "collaborates".

  38. Okay, so a family moves from Idaho to Chicago when their children are small... and the children grow up to be more city-like than rural... is that a surprise? And what about the parents, don't you think they'd have had some attributes that made them prefer Chicago, and these attributes are passed on to their children?

  39. I guess people in urban areas have other things to do and think about other than getting married and having kids to the same extent that rural folks seem to do.
    My generation was the first generation to have myriad career options open to women. I am financially independent in terms of making my own living and not depending upon a husband. When asked if I ever wanted to have kids, I say not really- it's been done before.

  40. Yes, if I had it to do again, I wouldn't. Unfortunately, this could produce a lot more poorly educated "underclass" kids, and fewer better educated "middle class" kids.

  41. 10%. Really? Hopefully this study asked participants if they were ABLE to marry. Many gay people move to urban areas to be free of conservative bias, and previously could not get married. Or people are able to express themselves AS gay in urban areas and don't get married as they might if the only option they feel is available to them in more conservative rural places was to marry.

  42. This is utterly meaningless without data until 40. I live in Connecticut: everyone, EVERYONE, I know who is college educated married after 30. Almost everyone I know is married.

    It also says nothing about divorce. I know plenty of people from my red state hometown who married early and often.

  43. I agree with need to include information for people that are older. It seems strange to me that they are equating "less likely to be married by 26" with not getting married at all. Geez! I married at 30 in NJ. So I guess according to this data, I am including in the analysis as being not married.

  44. The map is incomplete as it is missing the plotting of state and county divorce rates which tells the rest of the story about 'conservative' and 'liberals'.

    In their 2014 study in the American Journal of Sociology, Demographers Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Philip Levchak at the University of Iowa looked at the entire map of the United States, going county by county, to examine where divorces occurred in 2000 and what the characteristics of those counties were.

    Their work confirms that one of the strongest factors predicting high divorce rates is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county.

    Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states?

    The study found a Bible Belt cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support for higher education, big support for abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of higher education in religiously conservative counties, high poverty and high divorce rates.

    In summary, young people in red state religious counties tend not to pursue higher education or job training and instead engage in early marriage and child-bearing and more divorces.

    GOP hypocritical 'family values'.

  45. I'm sorry but the poverty and religiosity argument does not explain how the Deep South "nudges affluent children toward marriage and lower-income children away from it." Glass and Levchak found that "the high divorce rate among conservative religious groups is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth, and the lower educational attainment and lower incomes of conservative Protestant youth."

    I think you are just conflating two studies and committing a textbook case of the ecological fallacy.

    The fact that people living in more religious areas are more likely to divorce doesn't mean that the religious people in those areas are more likely to divorce just like the fact that people in southern states with high proportion of blacks are more likely to vote republican does not mean that black southerners are more likely to vote republican.

    To establish a definitive relation between religiosity and divorce we need to find out exactly who is getting divorced and not merely a spatial correlation between religiosity and divorce rates.

  46. For the poor areas that "discourage" marriage, I would like to see what percentage of the marriageable-age population of males is in prison.

    Also the population of gays and the legality or illegality of gay marriage would also seem to be a confounding factor.

  47. As with everything that goes along the political divide, compare this to a map of the % of population with college degrees and I bet you'd have a pretty strong correlation with plenty of opportunities to draw causations. I will happily do this.

    Warning: There lie sweeping generalizations ahead.

    The first way education comes in to play is that educated people better understand the financial requirements of raising children, so they delay having children until they are best able to support them. Since they are delaying having children, they delay getting married.

    The second way is that earning a college degree and a master's degree takes time. If education is your priority, you're busy with school until you're in your late 20s, so you're less likely to marry.

    The third way is that educated people have better job opportunities and more potential for career growth. The opportunity cost of getting married is higher when you could be focusing your time on getting ahead at the workplace.

    Naturally, less education would negate these effects.

    Basically what I'm saying is that while the people powering the urban, liberal financial cash cows of this country (NYC, SF, Chicago, Boston...) are focusing their time and effort on productive education and career-oriented goals, the people in the more rural, conservative areas of this country are getting married and having kids who will utilize their lack of education to vote for nutso Republicans.

    Strong confirmation bias, I know.

  48. A Guy--Fabulous summary of the situation! Thanks!

  49. This does not explain why in the Deep South affluent children are more likely to marry than the poor.

    If it were true, the fact that people living in less educated areas are more likely to get married doesn't mean that the less educated in those areas are more likely to get married just like the fact that people are more likely to vote republican in southern states with high proportion of blacks does not mean that black southerners are more likely to vote republican.

    To establish a definitive relation between education and marriage we need to find out exactly who is getting married and not merely a spatial correlation between education and marriage rates.

  50. Marriage doesn't fit with Liberalism. It's institutional, really, nothing about
    devotion in any way can be considered part of liberal ideology

  51. Dumbest comment of the day. Plenty of liberals get married. Of course we don't get married and divorced as often as conservatives do. Check out the divorce rate in red states.

  52. Your comment is completely unsupported by evidence. Study after study has shown that liberal "blue state" residents are, in fact, much more likely to get married (and less likely to divorce) than "red state" folks.

    Marriage and divorce rates are highly correlated with level of education. The college-educated (who tend to cluster in blue states) do marry at slightly later ages, on average, but they stay together longer and have more stable families and incomes than people in more conservative states.

  53. And really. Why get married? Women who are financially independent have no reason. You don't need to be married to fall in love, live together, or have kids if you want them.

  54. Yes, the tax code accommodates people who are not married by having relatively low rates for the first household income, married or single, up to a point. Many who think they are independent are really just getting a sizable subsidy from others with more income. That serves a purpose, of course, in allowing those in that situation to think they are doing our share with regard to monetary contributions to our common welfare. That is good for self-esteem and for society as a whole, but it shouldn't discourage marriage between people who share a commitment and want their children to have more stability. A child shouldn't have to worry about whether Mommy and Daddy, or Mommy and Mommy or Daddy and Daddy, for that matter, might easily go their separate ways, since doing that is made much easier by the lack of a legal commitment to the other parent.

  55. Is anything in this study at all surprising? I grew up in Manhattan, and have lived in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, London and Singapore. These are all affluent places with substantial opportunities to pursue interests outside of marriage that also have highly educated, sophisticated populations. Not only do people in these areas marry less frequently, they have less children. Most of the people I knew have either not married or married late. I was one of the few to marry in my 20s, but got divorced at 30 and did not remarry until my 40s. I am strong believer that one does not even begin to know oneself until one hits his or her 30s, so for most of us it's crazy to make a marriage commitment before then.

  56. I'm sure this correlates inversely to graduate school degrees, since the cutoff is age 26. Agree with everyone else who suggests controlling for divorce and moving the age cutoff up. But that probably wouldn't be as interesting of a graphic.

  57. The first thing I saw looking at the map is that is could also be a population density map.

    I noticed in the article the people sorting the data saw that also. In more densely populated areas people are less likely to be married by 26. My guess it is that in smaller communities you need to hook up early before all the good hooks up are gone. In the city not so much.

  58. Also, there's just a lot less to do in a small town!

  59. Married at 26? Isn't that a little young? Why not look at marriages by 30 at least, if not 35, which would catch a whole lot more educated people? This makes it sound as if all educated folks embrace living in sin, but I don't think that's the case at all - isn't there a strong correlation between education and lasting marriage?

    This makes it sound like we're turning into Europe, but I don't think that's true at all. Make your age range higher, and then report back.

  60. 30 is way too soon to write off kids from Northern California. I spent my whole childhood in Marin County and got married at 32. I'm 35 now and my Facebook feed has been a flood of weddings (and babies!) for the last few years. Last weekend, a dear friend of mine from the same hometown got married for the first time at 39. We may delay marriage, but eventually we still say "I do."

  61. I agree. I'm the same age (35, college-educated, living in the Great Lakes area), and the last few years have been a wedding-and-baby tsunami among my peers.

    Most of my aunts and uncles (also college-educated, some with advanced degrees) didn't get married until they were in their mid-30s to mid-40s.

  62. One of the reasons young people aren't getting married is that there's really no point to it. Why should they marry? Men and women live together, buy homes together, have children--in short, all the activities that convention used to tell us should be done within the confines of marriage are now done without it. None of the young people I know want or expect to become married at any point in their lives. They do not want the constraints that come with marriage, particularly for women. It seems lately that the only people I know that are getting married are gay.

  63. You forget to add that divorce rates are higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states?

    Religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates while New Jersey and Massachusetts, more liberal states, are two of the lowest.

    A 2014 study in the American Journal of Sociology by demographers Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Philip Levchak at the University of Iowa looked at the entire map of the United States confirmed that one of the strongest factors predicting divorce rates is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county, i.e. Bible-Beltism.

    Glass and Levchak found a Bible Belt cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children.

    Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of higher education in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing...poverty and divorce.

    That's the full story.

  64. I would guess the divorce map is next? And then the having a child out of wedlock map?

  65. I think this study speaks to "chances of marrying young," not "chances of marriage"...

  66. The researchers asked the wrong, biased questions, looked at the wrong mitigating factors, such as level of education, work history and delayed fertility; LGBT preferences; age, cultural bias, religion and ethnicity; all enormous deciding factors in relationships.

    (Well, may-be Utah might be an exception but I would be wrong to profile . . . )

  67. No it wouldn't be wrong, in that case the reason is religious which the authors did not consider and at any rate it sure as hell isn't geographical.

  68. 'Progressive' Democrats from these large cities have convinced themselves that fathers for children are unnecessary. 35% of children born in San Francisco Bay Area last year were born to unwed mothers. What will certainly follow is the cycle of poverty, drug abuse and future incarceration for the poor children horribly affected.

    In the future, we will consider this anti-marriage attitude to be known by a different name.

    "Child Abuse".

  69. Nice try, check out the out of wedlock births and divorce rates in red states.

  70. Is this statistical evidence, or did you use your 8 ball to cobble a picture of the future together?

  71. Also, to point out the obvious flaw in your thinking, just because a mother is unwed does not mean the father is absent, much less unnecessary. Quite the opposite of your conclusions I believe that "progressive" Democrats are more likely to feel that a father is necessary, or at the least, a good thing to have around.

  72. The most important factor that influences a person's decision to get married is probably based on economic factors and not on the region's political orientation. Most people are aware that in today's depressed economy, it takes at least two incomes to maintain a minimal quality of living, so concerns about financial matters are much more important than politics.

  73. This seems to be a broken record response to why people are not getting married.

  74. Because they have studied more than five million people who moved as children during the 1980s and 1990s. Those who moved to New York, among other places, were indeed less likely to marry than otherwise similar people who grew up elsewhere. And the younger that children were when they moved to New York, the less likely they were to marry.
    Since it takes two to marry, wouldn't it stand to reason that even those moving to these areas would need to find someone else to marry and since marriage is not as popular in, say NYC, wouldn't that make it more difficult for those who may be inclined to marry. Also most of the low marriage areas are in urban areas. Urban areas have a higher concentration of people of government assistance. Many of those people would lose or have that assistance severely diminished should they marry and of course Utah and environs have higher rates of marriage due to religious reasons. But the folks who came up with this nonsense thinks it has to do with partisan politics in this country and then they insist this data proves that. It is sad what passes for scholarship in this country.

  75. How about the likelihood to divorce one, two, or even more times?

    I also don't buy that someone who isn't married by 30 isn't likely to marry. I think that that statistic has changed in recent years.

  76. This needed a study? While not to say that only conservative people get married, what's always been crystal clear is that conservative groups (esp. religious) prefer that people get married vs not. This creates a certain pressure from society and family, which those who live in these societies then fall victim to.

  77. "It does not seem to simply delay marriage; the researchers found very similar patterns when they looked at the data up to age 30"

    I don't think this is nearly long enough to draw any real conclusions, especially if you're trying to tease out marriage rates among the college-educated.

    Nearly all of my married, college-educated family and friends got married *after* age 30. These days, a significant number of college-educated people prefer to wait to marry until they're more financially secure and have established a foothold in a career. (Though many are, in fact, very committed to each other and are living together in the meantime).

    Personally, I think this is *good* news, and that waiting to marry (until one is more mature and settled) is often a smarter bet. Most of the people I've known who married early are divorced now.

  78. Agreed! That was the point I was going to make too. If you pursue a graduate degree and work for a bit before getting married, that will often mean you lock it down after 30, especially for men who don't have the same biological clock constraints. Also, it's socially acceptable--preferable even--to live with your partner before marrying, travel together, and only marry if and when you're getting ready to start a family.

    I got married at 30, my husband was 32. I find that most of my married friends were similar ages when they tied the knot as well. In New York and San Francisco, both places I've lived, straight men do not seem open or ready for marriage until 31 or 32, even if they're perfectly happy and committed to their relationship.

  79. What else is there to do in the middle of nowhere but to get married an breed?It's so much more exciting to live in a big city and have lots of other things to do. Besides, who gets married before 26 these days anyway? Only those with no other options.

  80. Wow way to judge. It seems like the other side is just as capable of judging without basis as the Christian Right. My wife and I got married as medical students before the age of 26. We had plenty of options.

  81. Uhm, I was always taught, "correlation does not equal causation."

  82. You forgot about the "but it might" part.

  83. "Chances of Marriage" makes it sound like some desperate race on a reality TV show. Whether one gets married or not has little bearing on one's individual happiness otherwise why would the divorce rate be at 50%.

  84. I am fascinated that here in Columbus, (Franklin County, Ohio) marriage is significantly more likely among the rich, while significantly less likely among the poor. Yet in Indianapolis (Marion County, Indiana), a very similar place just west of here, marriage is more likely among both.

  85. This is a fascinating bit of information but how does it compare over time in the same areas. Have marriage rates changed in the decades since the second world war? What is the significance of the statistic? or is it significant just because it is unusual and was printed in the paper?
    Are the authors suggesting that political leanings are responsible for social outcomes, Or is it the other way around.

  86. I'm 27, grew up Mormon in Salt Lake County, left the Church in my early twenties, and would be eager to put a ring on it.

    Most Utahns my age, born from about 1985-1990, were blindsided by the recession, and I know that delayed marriage for Mo's and unbelievers alike. I see a lot of young kids, 21 and 22, settling down, and there's likely to be a Lost Generation of Salt Lake Millennials for a while, now.

    Don't want kids, though. SLC is still a great place to live, though!

  87. Seriously. Guess those folks from Harvard aren't all that smart...

    The highly-educated and ambitious with long-term career goals are unlikely to marry by 26, though they might well be in stable couple relationships by then.

    The highly-religious living in insular communities, though, are very likely to be married early.

    And then you have low-economic-opportunity people who are unlikely to marry at any age.

    So in urban areas with many inner-city poor, and many graduate-level educational institutions, the marriage rate at 26 will be pretty low...

    I figured that out without a degree....

  88. Wow - this makes me feel better - it may explain one of the reasons why I'm not married.

  89. Somehow the language "changes of marriage" in the headline seem biased as if there's a threat that folks who may want to marry won't have the option. Maybe that's true but the headline and article and even the comments seem to indicate lack, as if one doesn't have a choice in the matter. Some people don't want to marry or certainly aren't ready by age 26 or 30 - like me who is just getting there at age 46 (and yes, I live in San Francisco). What if the headline read something like "Marriage's Popularity Impacted By Location." Seems like that would carry less fear with it and lord knows the single among us don't need any more pressure around marriage.

  90. The average age of marriage for Men is 29 and for Women its 27. The fact that 26 is the cutoff seems rather suspect. Even at 30 it seems to bee too soon to draw a good conclusion.

  91. Asking if things were better when people made marriage and family a priority is ignoring the fact that the economy was stronger in the 50s and 60s, aside from anyone's priorities regarding marriage and family. If we had a stronger economy now, people might be more likely to marry, as well.

  92. Conflating "married by 26" with ever getting married seems very misleading.

    I grew up in SF - one of the places where you show a low marriage rate. Among my childhood friends, only one was married by 26. I was the second to marry - just shy of 30. Now, as I approach my 40th birthday, most of us are married with kids. At 26 we were living abroad; in grad school, med school, or law school; or otherwise busy building our careers. The same is true of my husband's friends from another "low marriage rate" county by your statistics.

  93. 26 is a ridiculous place to put the age cutoff. The human brain does not reach full maturity until 25 and people who marry young are more likely to get divorced. Marrying at or before age 26 is a bad idea for most people, especially given the realities of the modern economy and dual-income households. Nobody I know considers a person who marries at 30 "late" or thinks that a marriage after age 26 somehow doesn't count as marrying at all.

    Given the nature of the biological clock, I'd say putting the cutoff at 40 or 45 would be a lot more reasonable. As it stands, this article's data presentation is a pile of garbage that mindlessly reinforces outdated stereotypes. That map doesn't reflect a person's odds of a good life; it merely reflects the prevalence or absence of religious and economic pressures that affect the age at which people marry.

  94. The biological clock goes into exponential overtime starting at the age of 35, not 40 or 45. Speaking of garbage, it's irresponsible to tell women who would like to be mothers that they can put off having kids until age 40 or 45.

  95. We figured the biological clock differently. We had our first grandchild at 45, and six of them by age 50 (and several more since).

    This alternative method of calculation bears considerable benefits, I assure you-- like mountain backpacking and backcountry skiing with high-school and college-aged grandchildren!

  96. Wow there's a lot of conceit in these comments. "Those who got married before 26 didn't have better options." Seriously? There were also many comments about the higher rates of Red State divorces, which is a complete tangent from this article, but also statistically meaningless because the divorce rate of the highest performing state is only 2% off from that of the lowest performing state.

    Can we not just take this article at face value rather than injecting all these judgmental commentary?

  97. I wouldn't say the divorce issue is unrelated to the article. Whether the people who get married at 26 *stay* married seems highly relevant to me, if anyone is trying to draw any conclusions from the article (e.g., regarding public policy).

    If you break down divorce rates in more detail (e.g., by educational level), the results are definitely statistically significant.

  98. No I'm afraid not Chloe. Because if you did, you would be left with the undeniable truth that marriage, devotion and family are not as well suited to the liberal classes.It is an older, conservative ideological viewpoint on how one used to live their lives.

  99. Chloe, we are all a bit biased toward our own situation, but here's another viewpoint.

    My spouse and I were married at 19 and 20. We had dated others, but knew we had found the right person, so we didn't wait. I shudder to think that we might have thought that not marrying before 30 was wrong. We both came from stable families with no divorces, and we shared an ethnic background and a religion, although I wouldn't say that either of us was devout. We both earned degrees and had careers. Now, with just one income, we are in the top 5% of households by income and are planning a comfortable retirement. We are committed to making each other happy, and our goals are the same.

    We have several children who have been extremely successful. All have earned their college degrees, and most have advanced degrees. All who wish to be employed are, and those who have married have chosen the children of people like us, i.e., those who have long been married, with no prior marriages. This makes us happy, because we know that their chance of success will be enhanced and that their children will likely have the same security that they knew.

    And yes, our case is quite unusual, but marriage has worked for us.

    Single parents were once shamed, which was wrong, but the current trend of lauding single parents for their hard work while characterizing married mothers, and, in particular, those who have chosen to make parenthood their first priority, as women of lesser status, is just as wrong.

  100. On a vastly overpopulated planet in an age where the burning of carbon based fossil fuel is literally changing the world's climate. It is not surprising that the highly educated "realist" parts of the country or not engaging in early marriage and procreation and the more uneducated religiously conservative parts are marching right ahead without any controls on their fecundity.

    Happily in Western Massachusetts we are closing and consolidating unused grammar and high school buildings and concentrating of fully educating the far fewer number of children we do produce. This allows for excellence in education rather than simply coping with and marginally educating large numbers of disadvantaged children.

    It also means that when people do marry (or not) and produce offspring, the parents are older established in duel careers with duel incomes and are more fully able to properly support educate and care for the smaller number of children they do have.

    Clearly the decline in religious practice also contributes to these phenomena.
    Freed from a belief in the fantasy of a deity, highly educated people are able to make practical decisions on how to regulate their own fecundity.

  101. What's happening to the population of children in Western Massachusetts has nothing to do with adults of child-bearing age who live there not having kids - it has to do with those young adults departing Western Mass in droves.

    To the point of this article ( i.e. NYT click-bait) I grew up in Western Mass, moved to Boston, married at 33 and now have two kids in a suburb where our schools are literally bursting at the seams. My three best friends from college (all also from the "low-marriage" Northeast) all got married within a year of each other. Agree with other posters that setting 26 or 30 as the age of never having married doesn't capture the MANY academics and professionals in the so-called low-marriage areas who marry after 30, many of whom still do have children.

  102. I say this as a happily married woman (who married at age 26 coincidentally): encouraging very young people (in their early 20s) to marry for the sake of marriage is stupid. Happy, stable marriages are a great good, both to the people married and to society. But unhappy, unequal, contentious marriages are terrible for everyone. Divorce, while often the only viable solution to a bad situation, can be, and often is, highly destructive. Better to marry later (or not at all) than to marry unwisely.

  103. And better to marry wisely at a young age that either. This is the strategy my wife and I followed at 19-- 48 years ago.

  104. Many nights as I tucked in my son and daughter at bedtime, I whispered in their little ears, "Don't marry before 30." I guess it worked--one is 26, works internationally and speaks three languages, and the other is starting a doctoral program at 23. There will be time enough for marriage; now, in their twenties, is the time to learn about themselves before they become part of a pair.

  105. Interesting. Our child who married youngest, our middle daughter, at 21, will celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary this summer. Both she and her husband graduated after their marriage.

    This fall three of their kids will be in college, and two are getting close. It's odd when your own kids face the empty nest! She's 45......

    But it's true, most these days grow up pretty slowly, strangely.

  106. My husband and I were each in our mid-30s when we married. Very common pattern for those of us with PhDs (like me), MDs (like my husband), etc. We were still in school at 26, working towards our graduate degrees, residency, fellowship, postdoc etc. These are intense years and often there are x-country moves if you get into a particular program that matches your training needs and interests. Not the best time to link yourself to a spouse who may have their own education dynamic going on. But fast forward a decade and the story is quite different.

  107. I agree. Of the people I went to law school with, only a tiny percentage were married in their 20s. It was considered very unusual. Most of them married at age 30 or later (after they'd established themselves a bit at work).

    Student loans make it much more difficult for young, college-educated couples to embark upon marriage these days. Especially if you live in a part of the country with high housing costs.

    If you're making a hefty student loan repayment (or perhaps two, for a couple), it's pretty difficult to pay rent in a large city-- let alone save up for a down payment.

  108. Completely contrary to my experience. I was in law school 1970-73. When I started, we'd been married 3 years and had 3 kids. At least half my class was married, and most of those had at least one child.

    This changed, to be sure. By the 80's, law schools had far more unmarried students than in our day.

  109. The conclusions being drawn from this study are an overreach and just plain incorrect. I was pleased to read your assertion that perhaps the data was being misinterpreted and that people were just getting married later than by age 26 or even 30.
    I am a prime example of how this study is misinterpreting the data. I grew up in one of those cities mentioned as 'liberal' but was married at age 31. I am happily married, going on 7 years of marriage. However, by the conclusions drawn from this study, I would be classified as never marrying.
    What the data says is that adults in the areas indicated are married earlier than adults in more 'liberal' cities - not that they are marrying and the others are not. It appears the study needs to continue into their 30s before drawings any such conclusions.

  110. I married at 31, and it never occurred to me that I had "delayed marriage". All that these data seem to show is that in some areas of the country people are more likely to marry in their 30s than in their early 20s.

    It's certainly true that there are people who don't intend to marry. But most of the people I know who are unmarried at 30 do intend to marry, and may even be engaged.

  111. I think your sample population may not be representative of the country as a whole though.

  112. reading the headline, again, after the article,
    "How Your Hometown Affects Your Chances of Marriage"
    I realized the headline was just a hook to get the reader sucked(suckered) in to the article. It actually had little to do with the contents of the piece.
    What the headline ascreams is that your very ability or the p[ossibility of ever becoming married is adversely affected by the politics of the place where you reside. I already hear many people who never read beyond headlines, quoting the Times to the effect that Democrats from Northeastern states can never get married.

  113. I'll side with those who think that "marriage" is an unhelpful term in these days of alternative relationships (a.k.a. living together), and the results are way skewed. Even if they make sense in some broad way. And is there a surprise here--that people with more wealth and education delay marriage? Hmph.

    A very pretty map, however. Thanks!

  114. Dear N Y Times graphics person(s)
    In general, you do a fabulous job
    However, these maps that give sparsely populated states more area on the screen or page then densely populated areas are
    highly misleading
    I mean, almost no one lives in Idaho, roughly speaking (thanks wiki, ID is 0.51% of us pop - that is , literally 1 in 200 people)
    Utah is 0.9% of the us population
    so that huge area in the center of hte map ?
    1.5% of the us population, but way way way more then 1.5% of the map

    meanwhile, LA and NYC (*4% of us population) are almost invisible

    can you please explain to your readers how this makes sense ????

  115. Ezra....the map of the United States is the map of the United States.

    There's not much the graphic artists can do about the fact that some spaces are depopulated and others are densely populated.

    In the circle graph at mid-page, the graphic artists did what you wanted and listed each county by size and by 2012 Presidential Vote

    "Marriage effects by 2012 presidential vote;Each circle represents one county; circles are sized by population"

    They showed that the open spaces and rural, religious, 'married' right-wing reactionaries voted for Mittens 'Thurston Howell III' Romney and that the crowded states and urban, atheistic, 'single' progressives voted for our fine President Obama.

    The only thing missing from the map graphics were the high divorce rates in 'conservative' hypocritical, cognitively dissonant, 'family values' red states.

  116. The headline should read: "How Your Hometown Helps You Avoid Marriage."

  117. Utah! Try to tell me that Mormonism is not about keeping women in the kitchen!

  118. Have some children and learn how to cook. You may find that you like it. And you might find that you appreciate open space, safe streets and an environment that doesn't make people feel like too many rats in too small of a cage.

    I am an expat New Yorker, born and raised there. I love the small city live available in Portland. And, more to the point, while I am no fan of religion, I know several Mormon women who are high achieving professionals, as well as being nurturing mothers who know how to cook.

  119. New York culture and politics discourage marriage. Moreover, women are unfortunately, even with money, unsuitable life mates of they are from the NYC. Way too many women in New York have unattractive attitudes about men.

  120. Considering your apparent views about women, I wouldn't be surprised if they consider you "unsuitable" as well...

  121. Some will and some won't SD. It is pretty much that way with everything. In fact you are both generalizing about a topic that neither of you know anything about.

  122. The small town effect has long been well known among people I know who relocated from rural areas or small towns to the city. If you grow up in a small town, don’t leave or plan to leave, then by your early 20s you have a pretty good idea of what, i.e.: who, your options are. So, if you want to get married you may as well pick one because waiting longer isn’t going to change anything.

  123. The graphic is terribly compromised by poor color choices for the extremes. Less and more likely appear indistinguishable on all but professionally calibrated displays.

  124. So ... correlation now implies causation?

  125. No they said their study proves causation. Of course it does no such thing. If it proved causation then they are saying that the reason you aren't married is because you are a Democrat. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

  126. Later marriages tend to last longer than early ones - the later you marry, the less likely you are to divorce. Massachusetts - full of godless late-marrying liberals - has the lowest divorce rate in the nation.

    Certainly there are people who marry their high school or college sweethearts and stay happily married for 50 years. But when people marry later, chances are they are marrying for love, not because a) it's the only way they can have sex without sinning, b) bride, groom or both are in the closet, c) they're going straight from parents' house or dorm to marriage because they need someone to take care of them.

    And if they do divorce, it's not going to be because "I got married so young that I missed out on all the fun I could have had, and now I have to Find Myself!"

  127. How can later marriages last longer than earlier ones? We were married at 19 and this month have been married 48 years. If we'd married later, it would be shorter, not longer-- or have I got the arithmetic wrong?

    And yes, we were high school sweethearts, too?

    And-- whence comes the idea that marriage is not fun?

  128. I think the conclusion will shift once data for later ages are collected. I predict we will see those in the "liberal" cities eventually marrying, but later in life, because I think marriage age is not affected by geography, but by economics. People who can "afford" to get married early will marry earlier. Those who live in the expensive liberal cities (SF, NYC, etc...) and those who are very poor likely wouldn't be thinking of marriage when they're still living at home or in cheap apartments with plastic furniture (as an example).

  129. Thanks, I used to have to go to CNN or read People for studies like this. You're missing the links to the dating sites that those interested in stories like these usually want..

  130. What's with all these assumptions on here that if you got married before age 26, you might as well call all your career aspirations and life goals over? Where did this misguided conception come from? Is it self-rationalization?

    My wife and I met in college together, got married in medical school, had kids in residency. Some compromise was necessary, but we both achieved over 90% of what we had wanted to do by our current age, plus created so many more experiences together as a family that we couldn't even have imagined when we were single.

    Life is not static and marriage is not a caricature. Your life is not over if you get married, it's just starting. Every family dynamic is its own miniculture and what you make it to be. If you know unhappy married couples, you don't have to be one of them in your marriage.

  131. Thanks for this comment. When I decided to marry at 23, my classmates (at a certain Bay Area school) told me my life would be over. I disagreed. Then one of them said, "Well, maybe your life isn't over at marriage, but it's definitely over when you have kids."

    Since then, there have been long nights with screaming infants when I thought my life might really be over. But for the most part, the past twelve years have been very fulfilling. My husband and I have both started and finished grad school since then, and it was helpful--critical, even--to navigate that process with each other's unflinching support. We made sacrifices for each other and for our family, we had to get creative sometimes to make life work, and I think it made us closer, more committed. We've also had a lot of fun along the way, even (especially) because of our kids.

    My friends who haven't married do more socializing, to be sure, and they don't need to hire a babysitter to go out (among lots of other differences) and sometimes I envy the command they have over their time. Privately, though, some of these friends have told me that they feel very lonely.

    I wonder why we insist that marriage is an institution for people who have already made it. By then, you're pushing forty. When I look at my oldest son (who's turning ten), and the others that followed him, I'm so glad my husband and I didn't wait. I think the attitude that life is over at marriage and kids is unfortunate. People are missing out!

  132. Sounds like you're one of the lucky ones. Mazel tov.

  133. Great post. I was 26 when I married a wonderful man who helped me pursue a new career and encouraged me to write, travel and do the things I'd always wanted to do. We love spending time together but have always given each other the freedom to pursue our own interests. At its best, marriage is a partnership and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

  134. I could have told you that! The more you know about marriage, the less you are likely to be hellbent to tie the knot. Add living in NY, you just don't want to share your apartment!

  135. The chart that is most telling is the Marriage Effects by 2012 Presidential vote.

    If it is true that our population continue to grow (or is at least stable), and also true that single parent households suffer more difficult quality of life, then it seems that those folks overwhelmingly voted for Obama and bigger government.

    However, if marriage is indeed a choice, and these folks choose otherwise, then why is my tax money needed to support their lifestyle choice?

  136. You assume that these people who wait to marry are single parents? The fact is, there are fewer single-parent families (and less divorce) in Democratic leaning areas. They're actually making more responsible choices (and incidentally, on average, paying more into the system than they are taking out).

  137. And yet about 1/2 the cities with the highest percentage of single parents are also in the areas of the map with the most number of people who marry before age 26. Not sure your correlation is supported by the data.

  138. Hard one to buy, Brad.

    If the black out-of-wedlock birth rate is north of 70%, its difficult to believe they lean republican, for example.

    It may be true there are less divorces, but that is because you must first marry to be divorced. Being a single parent does not require marriage.

  139. I'm Mormon, married, and live right next to Provo, UT, the home of BYU. Although I didn't graduate from BYU, my wife did. I graduated from UVU nearby. I'm seeing a lot of comments claiming those who live in insular or religious communities are uneducated and don't have anything better to do than get married, or that those who marry early are unambitious or don't have career goals. In my experience, and judging by the people I'm surrounded by, it seems to me that is just a lazy caricature.

    Having a family and being successful in other aspects of life don't have to be mutually exclusive. I married late compared to most of my Mormon contemporaries, and I wish I had done it sooner, honestly. I've been very successful in my career and personal life, but nothing has brought me as much happiness as my family. If I were to give my younger self any advice it would be to marry young (22-25). The success from work and career will always be there for those who work hard, but I'll never get the years back I spent without kids and a wife in my life, and that is a shame.

  140. It would be insightful to compare this geographical marriage rate to the geographic abortion rate.

  141. Maybe it's because there's nothing to do in these other places other than get married and have kids. I think you guys should find a different data set to examine!

  142. And not getting married is supposed to be a bad thing??

  143. The places I grew up peg me as being less likely to have married. Guess I should have paid more attention - I did marry before age 26 and it was the biggest mistake of my life.

  144. Don't need no stinking marriage to have children, and then there's no alimony. Breaking up is easy to do, don't need no commitments.

  145. Allegedly, marriage provides cost savings by economies of scale, but marriage has distinct high costs that single life does not. If your economic situation is insecure with little discretionary income, the rational thing to do is avoid marriage because of 1) marriage ceremony costs, 2) more work hours to make ends meet puts stress on marriage and 3) kids are costly. This explains all of the observed phenomena in this article and should not be shocking.

  146. From a purely financial perspective, you can obtain most of the same "cost savings" of marriage simply by getting a roommate. (Apart from tax breaks, etc.)

  147. I will suggest this study, and the article, overlook a large segment of the US population; one which would enlightening to look at, fairly easy to acquire data on; and surprise; one to which I belong.

    Those of us who grew up in the military. We are not urban, nor small town- it's a different culture, and one which includes being stationed in multiple situations. Please add us- we'd like to know.

  148. It would have been much better if you had included an overlay of the likelihood of women in those locations to attend college or other forms or higher education. the "marriage deferral" effect of higher education is well documented. The map would look very similar if it had been titled "how growing up in a high tech center affects your early marriage probability"

  149. I would love to see a companion analysis of likelihood of divorce.

  150. I'd be interested in seeing the divorce rate for this demographic after 10 years of marriage.

  151. Presumably the town itself does not actually "affect" the person--rather the range of choices that one sees probably in a metropolitan area would not only make various choices seem "normal," but would also draw people in from other places where these choices did not seem acceptable. My mother left a small town where she felt she must marry early in order to move to a big city so she felt more comfortable being single. She was the one who "affected" the probability of marriage in those places, not the other way around. These types of studies seem rather pointless.

  152. My wife and I were married here in the Pacific NW, in May of 1967 (the Summer of Love), at age 19, at the end of our freshman year in college.

    In a few days, we'll celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary. The two of us have become 22, with children, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.

    All of life's greatest joys have proceeded from that decision 48 years ago. I tell the young: dive into life, it was meant to be lived. Get married while you are young, have children while you are young. At age 67, we have adult and near-adult grandkids, with whom we hike, ski, travel, etc.

    Never listen to the carking negativists and birds of ill omen. Never!

  153. @Longue,
    You were a baby boomer. Some people may want to have children before their mid-twenties, but it's not feasible for many Millenials. health insurance is expensive, postsecondary education is a requisite for making a stable income and is incredibly expensive. Delaying childbirth until mid 20s and beyond is an attempt to secure a stable financial future for young adults these days.

    How many jobs are available for 20year olds that pay enough to allow for rent, transportation, health benefits, and paid time off? Not many.

  154. I would add that parents who are a bit older - by which I mean over 25 - are usually more patient and prepared for the sacrifices that are necessary for raising children. I've known too many young parents who have horrible "mid life crises" and start acting like teenagers when THEIR kids are teenagers - not good for kids or parents. Other young parents start resenting their kids for "tying them down and keeping them from having fun."

    Sure, many people are not into the party-hearty twentysomething lifestyle, but it's healthier to party down when you're young and childless and unencumbered, than to have a midlife crisis and destroy your family.

  155. Never was my problem. I think having kids young makes it easier; I should know, we had 3 by 22.

    As for "partying", our friends would come over to our house to drink beer-- we were the married ones! We had plenty of parties. And we had plenty of them when surrounded by other young marrieds within just a few years.

    Where do people get the idea that married people don't have fun? Weird, really.....

  156. "How can the researchers think they’re capturing a causal effect here — in which a child who moves to New York actually becomes less likely to marry? Because they have studied more than five million people who moved as children during the 1980s and 1990s. Those who moved to New York, . . . were indeed less likely to marry than otherwise similar people who grew up elsewhere. And the younger that children were when they moved to New York, the less likely they were to marry."

    This is very impressive data. But causality is very slippery. Certainly there _might_ be a New York effect as suggested above.

    But a great deal of self-selection is going on here. By the children's parents, of course. But one's parents have a powerful effect on who one grows up to be. Very likely the families that moved to New York have a different statistical profile from families that didn't.

    The data would be even more impressive if only families with similar profiles were the ones being compared with each other. And even then, the families that didn't move are likelier to be ones where one or both parents had close ties to the place they didn't move from, and vice versa for the group that did move.

  157. Was this peer-reviewed? The only source document I can find is an executive summary. And if this has not yet been peer-reviewed, why is this being discussed in the mainstream media now?

  158. "How Your Hometown Affects Your Chances Of Marriage"
    Grabby headline.
    "Chances of Marriage" -- interesting phrase. Makes marriage seem like a lottery, rather than a personal choice.
    Definitely a juicier headline than, "Age at First Marriage Differs Regionally," which is what the data presented actually seem to support.

  159. What a strange age to pick as a benchmark. At 26, if you've gone to college, you're likely carrying about $100,000 in debt. Most young people, regardless of their political leanings, don't want to marry someone with that kind of economic baggage. And most young people carrying that kind of economic baggage don't want to get married until they've paid at least half of it off, which would take a heck of a lot more than 3 or 4 years. Thus, this map and graph tell us less about political attitudes toward marriage and more about where the majority of college graduates carrying loads of debt live.

  160. This "marriage gap" is probably exaggerated even if the data showed marital status by age 30. The median age of marriage in America is now 29 for men and 27 for women-- that means only a little more than HALF of Americans are married by 30. If we look at this dataset again in 10 years it'll be an different picture.

    Also, this data doesn't tell us who these unmarried 26-year-olds are. Are they college-educated middle-class folks who are delaying marriage and kids until they are more established in their careers or finished with graduate school? Or are they poorer, less-educated folks who may be cohabiting instead and maybe have already had children? Those are two very different populations.

  161. "The more strongly a county voted Republican in the 2012 election, the more that growing up there generally encourages marriage."

    Looking at the chart, it would appear that areas with the least marriage voted 90% democrat. I would imagine that most, if not all, of those areas have a very high percentage of african-americans who also have a very low marriage rate.

  162. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I take exception with the word "chances" of marriage in the headline, as if everyone wants, or should want, to be married. Given skyrocketing over-population and American consumption habits, foregoing procreation would be a blessing, and I can attest the opportunities to change, learn, grow, associate with any number of people and whomever you choose, contribute to the community and personally "self-actualize" has made single life a joy I have never regretted over the years. Freedom, sweet freedom!

  163. Wait until you're old and alone. ;)

  164. @TCNONE:

    Plenty of people who marry young end up old and alone, too (e.g., through divorce or widowhood). There are no guarantees in life.

    (As a health care attorney, I can also vouch for the fact that having kids doesn't guarantee that they'll be able or willing to help you when you're older, either).

  165. tcnone......what do you consider "old"? I'm probably there already. AS for elderly, by then there will be so many others "old and alone" maybe I won't be so alone after all.

    I don't see marrying at 30, 40....or even 50 to avoid being "old and alone." That's throwing the best developmental years of one's life away out of fear, imo.

  166. The fact that this data only goes up to age 30 makes this relatively useless, and fails to support the hypothesis proposed in the article's title. I met my husband at 22 but we did not marry until we decided to have kids -- at 32. I know almost no one who was married at 26 -- even those who met their spouses in college -- and virtually none of the people I know who pursued graduate degrees were married before the age of 30 -- and importantly, nearly 100% of them are now. This is anecdotal of course -- but given that the data stops at age 30, it's hard to understand how anyone could claim that the study can support any ultimate conclusion about a person's "chances of getting married" -- perhaps it can tell us something about their chances of getting married YOUNG, but nothing more.

  167. Married by 26!!! Thats crazy. What is the rush? I think the reason people in the so called "liberal" areas- read, cities- have so many things to do, see and go to that they are too busy to hurry up and get married. Your twenties is when you are trying to figure out who you are, and get your career established. You also have to meet the right person- or at least someone you can imagine spending many years with.

    Additionally, with student loans to pay, demanding jobs and sheer exhaustion, there is no wonder people don't want to take on family & spouse responsibilities in a hurry- if ever. And don't forget the economy tanked not very long ago. It's pretty hard to get married if you are living home with your parents.

  168. I am a man, and speak from a man's point of view, the only one I know. A wife does not represent "taking on a responsibility"-- she represents love, friendship, and help-- all good things to have with "demanding jobs and sheer exhaustion".

    I believe my wife holds similar views about a husband, from her point of view.

    We stood up and made the promises to each other in front of our families and friends in 1967, at 19. We're still at it, 48 years later.

    I'm sorry there are so many lugubrious negativists here about marriage; some do need to tell the other side of the story.

  169. Back in the day, if you weren't married by the time you were 22, at the latest, a woman would be considered an old maid. You at least had to have an engagement ring by the time you graduated college.

  170. I thought it sweet that you feel a wife represents love, friendship and help, rather than a responsibility. Then, when you pointed out how long ago you married, I understood.

  171. This is a really incomplete and misleading article. The AVERAGE age of marriage in the US is 26.9 for women and 29.8 for men. Considering very few people are married before 18, it is reasonable to think that something like half of men marry after age 30. By cutting off data at age 26 (the chart) or age 30 (the article), you are simply showing those areas where people get married young, rather than showing likelihood of marriage during a lifetime. It is still interesting to see (although not really headline news) that people in poor, conservative areas marry young. But that's a very different story than the one you're purporting to tell in this article.

  172. "These conclusions — based on an Upshot analysis of data compiled by a team of Harvard economists studying upward mobility, housing and tax policy — are not simply observations about correlation. The economists instead believe that they have identified a causal role that geography plays in people’s lives."

    No rigorous statistician would ever impute causality to an analysis that can only ever demonstrate correlation. Causality requires carefully controlled testing to ensure variables are accounted for. The authors undoubtedly know this. This to me is an over-reach on their part, and should be annotated as such.

  173. So how many gay marriages (and/or domestic partnerships) were included in this data? The data is from 2012, so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say few if any. Guess that skew toward unmarried city-dwellers might be a bit inaccurate.

  174. I haven't read the original paper, but I think real economists would be very careful with using the term 'causality'; they tend to remain in the realm of correlations. I am wondering if this is just a conclusion made by the author of this article. There could be many possible causality drivers for both marriage and geographical preference: self-selection, genetics, etc. It is possible that people with similar genetic make-ups self select themselves to live in certain geographical enclaves due to their similar political inclination. In short, the real driver for their choice of geography and opinions is one and the same.

  175. If you are white you are more likely to marry.
    If you are religiously observant you are more likely to marry.
    If you have higher socioeconomic status you are more likely to marry.
    If familial expectations are for marriage you are more likely to marry.

    On the other hand,

    If you are nonwhite you are less likely to marry.
    If you are poor you are less likely to marry.
    If you were born out of wedlock you are less likely to marry.
    If you have lower socioeconomic status you are less likely to marry.
    If you are secular, atheist, agnostic or unaffiliated you less likely to marry.

    I knew all of this before I read your research.

  176. So, Orrin, you married?

  177. Still single

  178. The average age of marriage in the United States has risen considerably and is well above 26 at this time (29 for men, 27 for women). The usefulness of this map is not clear, given that so much of the national demographic is excluded...

  179. "Discouraging marriage"? How about encouraging independence? The article seems to assume that the primary objective for all is marriage. How about considering the perspective that locations with fewer marriages ENCOURAGES people to consider the right lifestyle for them rather than being pressured to marry?

    I'm not saying one lifestyle is better than another but by describing findings in terms of discouraging marriage, seems to be a biased approach.

  180. it seems like a glaring hole not to consider data on cost of living and education levels. Married without kids means higher taxes and when you're 26, you're usually not making that much money, so that is a concern. Also when you have more investment in your education, you're more likely to invest in your career.

  181. Your conclusions are too preliminary. And, as many have pointed out, the age cut-point is too young.

    I suspect that the environment when you are of marriageable age is more influential than the environment where you grew up. I grew up in the more purple areas of this chart, but moved after college to one coast and then another. The greater the population (meaning, the greater the choice of mates), the later people will choose a mate and settle down. The perception is that there is no need to "settle" when the right one may still be out there. And there is no social penalty for remaining single (or cohabiting and having children, for that matter; just because you haven't tied the knot doesn't mean you haven't started a family).

  182. The article states, "The only two states that both make marriage significantly more likely and that voted Democratic in 2012 are Iowa and Oregon. Those two states have a much lower population density than California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and most other blue states. That’s a sign that rural areas and small towns encourage marriage more than cities."

    I don't know about Iowa, but in Oregon (and especially Eastern Oregon) the small towns and rural areas often lean more Republican. Also, I don't think anywhere near the majority of the Oregon population lives in rural areas and small towns so am not sure how much of an impact they would have on any trend or issue. The reasoning of the article's above statement seems faulty.

  183. This article puts you last one on Chety and Hedren's research into question. Is their research on income mobility also measured at age 26? The age cut off would be equally problematic for determining adult economic prospects. At that age, most professionals are still in training.

  184. The fact that Washington, DC is at the top of the list tells me that the marriage rate isn't just influenced by education - it's dominated by education: The education of women. DC's long been known for having more women than men; throw advanced degrees into the mix, and women -- financially self-sufficient, confident, and just plain busy -- are more likely to wait to marry (if they do at all). I know I did.

  185. p.s. On the other side of the equation is urban poverty and its impact on marriage. Put the two together, and you have the perfect storm in places like DC, NYC and the Bay Area. An area's low marriage rate may be a proxy for a much bigger issue: Income inequality.

  186. BIG effect of causality here that still needs to be teased out-----do children who are less likely to marry move to big cities which harbor similar peers, ergo the marriage rate is negative? or if marriage-prone children move to NYC, etc., does the new enviro full of bachelors promote a new anti-marriage attitude? Kinda like a chicken/egg problem right? we need more controlled and same sibling studies= John and Bill both come from a home that puts a high value on marriage; John stays home and gets married, but Bill moves to the big city after graduation for work. At age 26 Bill is still single, good job, good social life, and marriage pressure is much less than if he had stayed at home like his brother John. While I may agree that there is an enviro effect of moving to a place that does not foster early marriage (i.e., it may reinforce latent tendencies among the nuptial-reluctant), the geography is only one effect, and maybe even an indirect effect at that. So it may not be the geography per se that is a primary cause, but the fact that Utah provides a society that emphasises marriage, while Los Angeles does not--i.e., it is social support not place that counts-- i.e., place is an artifact of other causes. This study provides good data that is descriptive, but not explanatory.

  187. Until recently, homosexual marriage was banned virtually everywhere, but liberal, big cities were at least welcoming so what is the effect of removing those marriage ineligible people from the population base?

  188. I recall a boy (18) from a semi rural county here in TN saying, "The best thing you can do around here is to get married young".

  189. I first documented the links between marriage rates, affordable family formation, and voting Republican soon after the 2004 election. Here's an update showing how statistically important the Marriage Gap is in Presidential elections -- far more significant than the much more celebrated Gender Gap -- for the 2004 through 2012 elections:

  190. Steve, how much of the correlation was tied to the age (and perhaps generation) of respondents - or didn't it matter?