What’s scarier - ghosts, zombies, or your mother asking when you’re going to settle down and get married?

The results are in, and Mom is not going to be happy. A study by The Pew Research shows the average age of newlyweds is higher than ever - about 27 years old for women, and 29 for men. These numbers are a new record, but follow a pretty predictable pattern from the last fifty years.

The average age of first-time motherhood is rising in a similar fashion, and now sits at about 26.5 years old (a dramatic increase from 21, the average in the 70’s).

There are lots of theories floating around as to why this phenomenon is happening, some of which include:

  • increasing prioritization of careers/financial stability 
  • increasing acceptance of unmarried partners living together
  • decreasing enthusiasm towards marriage/fear of divorce
  • increasing time spent in school

There are several factors that go into a couple’s decision to get married, but these (along with overarching health and longevity) seem to be the overarching ingredients. However, these factors only represent our average population, so there are pockets of couples who are largely untouched by the increase.

Those without a college degree, for example, have not seen a lot of fluctuation in their average age for marriage. There is also a large variation by state, with the women of Idaho marrying at age 23 and women of Washington D.C. waiting till they’re almost 30.

What does that mean for businesses?

Honestly, not much. Or at least, nothing that directly links a person’s marital status to his or her work behavior. However, the same factors that contribute to the increasing newlywed age still have implications for the incoming workforce. Millennials are on the way to becoming the most educated generation ever (90% of highschoolers plan to continue their education after graduation!) and place a greater emphasis on things like workplace atmosphere, continuing education, and training. With the ability to dedicate themselves wholly to their career for several years out of college, people are spending more time with their first professional employer (and less with their potential spouse) and moving up the corporate ladder more quickly.

With averages on the rise and economic and social factors giving couples every reason to wait, it looks like the trend will continue for quite some time.

Sorry, Mom.

(read the full study here)

Rachel is a business strategist from Chicago. She specializes in process development, community outreach, and content strategy.