[This is a reference post, made to be linked to in the future by myself, or anyone else who finds it helpful and convenient. It may be updated over time to include both past and future conduct.]
There is a significant delay right now in the age of first marriage in the US. We are well outside the historical norm, with women now at marrying at roughly 27 and men at 29. As many have pointed out, including myself, this is a disaster with many repercussions. Among them are a huge increase in sexual immorality, an increase in divorce and a drop in the birthrate.
Possible solutions for this problem are outside the context of this post. Instead, the focus is on why this problem developed. Some have accused men of driving the delay in marriage. An example of this can be found in one of Dalrock’s posts, Clearing the Christian marriage-market. Dalrock correctly points out to one “Pastor Wilson” that it is not men (or at least, not primarily men) who are responsible for this. Rather, it is women who are driving the delay in marriage in the US right now. To quote from that post:
He overlooks the fact that women are very open about their desire to ride the carousel for as long as possible before marriage. He also clearly doesn’t understand the realities of the sexual marketplace (SMP) and marriage marketplace (MMP). Young women are the rockstars of the SMP, while young men are near the bottom. Since young women have the power, they set the terms. And what women want* is years, if not a decade or more, of sex with a small subset of the most attractive men before settling for a boring loyal dude. It makes no sense that men would prefer to marry just when their SMP stock is on the rise, and just when the SMP stock of their soon to be bride is rapidly declining.
Now, women need not desire to participate in the carousel, or at least not participate (although they may want to) to delay marriage. They might simply use their twenties for other endeavors. For example, there is the phenomenon of “Good Christian Girls” going on extended mission trips or ministries or the like. Adding up, they can do these for years, and in the process, delay marriage.
If it were men delaying marriage, and not women, then we would see a greater divergence between the median age of men and first marriage, and the median age of women at first marriage. But there is no such divergence. The gap between the two has remained relatively constant over the course of decades. Given that men prefer young women over older women, all else being equal, and given that women prefer men a few years older than themselves, we can determine that this delay is largely attributable to women.
As a matter of clarification, I am speaking about the micro level here. It is individual women choosing to delay marriage, en masse, which is driving this delay. This is not to say that men are not involved in this process. A fair number of men are delaying marriage too- some because they are told to, and others because they don’t need marriage to get their share of female companionship. In addition, fathers play a huge role in this delay of marriage. Many of them are essentially teaching their daughters to act like sons, and encouraging them towards a life path that necessitates marriage. So men are not blameless here.
At the same time, if one wants to fix this problem, and it is a problem, the primary focus needs to be on changing female behavior. Of course, that necessitates that fathers stop giving bad advice to their daughters. But the focus is on female behavior all the same, although covering the penumbra of factors which influence it.
Furthermore, I am not interested in a blame game. Rather, the goal is to identify a problem, and its source.
[ My readers are of course encouraged to offer their own thoughts as well, and any data they have to support it.]