The Postponement of Marrige

The Postponement of Marriage
Western society has progressed in wide and remarkable array of measures; economically, technologically, religious, and culturally. Realistically our world has changed more in the past 6 decades than it has in the 150 years before that. But the most glaring and all encompassing example of this phenomenon is often over-looked. While seemingly trivial and insignificant, the rising average age of first marriage near perfectly incorporates so many of these factors. In 1975 that median age for marriage was 24 years old; by 2003 that number had climbed to 29.5 (Statistics Canada, 4). A 22% increase. The reasons for this development say substantially more than it does standing alone; longer life spans, the feminist movement, the decline in the church’s social influence, and contraceptives. These five motives quite thoroughly cover many of the past half century’s developments in Canada, America, and the rest of the Western world.

The primary reason is the simplest of all; people are living far longer than they used to. The current global average life expectancy at birth is approximated at 67.2 years (with countries like Canada in the low 80’s); at the start of the 20th century this number was in the area 35-45 years (World Factbook, 1). Advances in medicine, the decline of conventional warfare, eradication of a variety of diseases, and the mechanization of dangerous employment have all drastically elevated how long we can expect to live. It doesn’t take much insight to relate this to the raising average rate of marriage; if one expects to die by 40 there is good reason to marry by 20. But if you’re planning on living till your late 70’s you might not be so inclined to rush.

The other reasons are increasingly more abstract, to varying degrees at least. A commonly overlooked explanation is the “second-wave” of Feminism in the 60’s and 70’s. Building on the achievements of the “first-wave”, particularly the right to suffrage, women in...