The Marriage Rate is at an All-Time Low, But Why?

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Whenever I log onto Facebook, yet another one of my high school classmates is getting married. This annoys me a bit because, at this stage in my life, the only thing I'm legally bound to are my student loans.

Still, in the wake of all this marital bliss, I can't help but wonder: Are marriage rates experiencing a boon or am I just being bombarded with it because I follow really obnoxious newlyweds?

A new study suggests the latter paints a more accurate portrait. Bowling Green State University's National Center for Marriage and Family Research released a report Thursday, which says that the U.S. marriage rate is 31.1, or 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. That means for every 1,000 unmarried women in the U.S., 31 of those previously single women tied the knot in the last year. Seems low right? That's because it is — a historic low, in fact.

In 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to 72 percent in 1960. However, rates of cohabiting couples are rising, according to the Huffington Post. Citing a study by private research company Demographic Intelligence, the media outlet reported that less than half a million couples were cohabiting in 1960. That's compared to 7.5 million in 2010.

So, what's really to blame for the decline in marriage rates?

Perhaps the growing cultural acceptance surrounding "shacking up" is to blame. Other offered explanations include finances and the burgeoning belief that only those who have attained "upper class" status can afford babies. I think that the divorce rate is also leading more than a few people to delay tradition, too.

Regardless, people just aren't getting married in the numbers that they used to. But I am not so sure that this is "bad" news. Consider this: Marriage does not possess the same economic and social impetus that it once did. Looks like we're moving away from thinking that every woman who does not get married is just a poor, lonely hag.