My Market Analysis series continues. Today I want to examine, to some degree, a point I made in Market Watch:
Young men are much less interested in marriage than they were in the past. Having a few more years under my belt since I started blogging, I have seen this more and more. Younger men are just less interested in marriage. The why of this is worthy of a whole post of its own.
I have been thinking over this point for some time, because I knew something was going on, but wasn’t sure what. I am still not certain I have it nailed down, but I will try and address it all the same. [Perhaps this discussion will help fix that.]
While I was thinking this over, it appears that Seriously Please Drop It was on the same wavelength as me. His recent post, Our Fates Are Bound- And Some Good News covered much of what I intended to discuss. So I will quote a great deal from his post. I will start with his second point, because it ties directly to my original observation:
To put it another way: young men have generally ceased to believe what Concept 1 says it is very important that they believe: that they stand a reasonable chance of marrying well. In response, they work less hard to be eligible husbands.
The standard conservative response has been: No problem, we’ll just lie to them. Or yell at them. And that actually worked for a surprisingly long time, but as Dalrock details, that train is running out of steam.
I believe that young men are much less inclined to marry these days in large part because they cannot marry well. Simple cost-benefit analysis, really. The stock isn’t worth the price, and so they won’t play the market, if you will.
Furthermore, I believe this is most pronounced among young men who are devout Christians. Now, among the general population there isn’t a marriage strike going on. [n fact a secular acquaintance of mine got married to his long time GF recently. So secular guys still are interested in marrying.] All the same, I think a drop off is happening. However, it is happening the most among the most devout men.
The reason for this? Well, I don’t think it is just one reason. I suspect a couple are at play. Some possibilities:
- Devout Christian men are much more “picky” when it comes to a mate. They are screening for a variety of personality and character traits that are in short supply. If they are convinced that such options aren’t available, they may just give up and opt out of the market.
- Devout Christian men are presumably more likely to take marriage and marriage vows more seriously. Looking around, they can see that few do. With that kind of observation comes a natural disinclination to take part in something they perceive as likely to end poorly.
- Female behavior has become increasingly more egregious. Devout Christian men are the most likely to notice this, and to use this to come to a general determination that women simply aren’t worth it these days.
I am sure there are others, and I invite my readers to supply their own thoughts.
Taken together, all of these are indicators that young men are not confident with the market. They see volatility and watered stocks everywhere. In such circumstances, it makes sense to not want to play the market at all. Which brings us to the next point:
Concept 1: Marriage requires pre-marital cooperation, and therefore intersexual societal trust
Good grooms and brides do not simply appear from the ether. Eligibility requires work and self-denial from both sexes, for many years before marriage.
Much of the motivation for this work and self-denial comes from the carrot of marriage. But for this to work, young people must believe that somewhere in the world, their opposite number is doing the same thing.
The Market relies on both men and women to act appropriately. If one sex misbehaves, then the whole market will start to fall apart. Cooperation is key. As a lawyer once explained to me: “the most basic underlying assumption of contract law is that everyone is operating under good faith. If you take away good faith, you don’t have a contract.” What we have right now is a system where at least one side is perceived as acting in bad faith (if not actually doing so in large part).
Dropit sort of sums everything up in this:
What we are hitting upon here is the importance of morale. We could aptly describe current failures in the marriage market as a cyclical “Morale Crisis.” We should start talking about this!
He uses the word morale, and it works. Morale is certainly low. However, I think the underlying basis for that low morale is a lack of confidence or trust in the market. People are convinced that the players in the market are not acting in good faith. Let’s examine in further detail this tidy little bit of wisdom:
“Why prepare for marriage? Guys will always be available”
“Why prepare for marriage? There are no girls available”
“Why prepare for marriage? There are no guys available.”
Examining it in detail, you can see where bad faith leads us towards. Point 1 is all about women acting in bad faith. The realization of this leads men to stop bothering becoming marriageable, because it is clear to them that women aren’t to be trusted. In turn this leads those women who don’t engage in Point 1 thinking to be convinced that men aren’t serious about marriage, and they in turn throw their hands in the air. It is a vicious cycle with no end-point but an utter lack of trust in the opposite sex and in the institution of marriage.
My attempt at a brief summation: Young men, especially devout Christian men, are not inclined towards marriage because they have come to believe they cannot trust their female counterparts. In turn many of the remaining decent women are also coming to believe they cannot trust the men, either. We cannot begin to fix the marriage market, especially among devout Christians, until we fix the trust issues that exist between men and women.
I am going to hold off on further commentary for the moment. In the meantime I hope my readers will chime in and offer their thoughts.