The success sequence
From a report by the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies
A recent report by AEI and IFS looked at young adults in the USA (28-34 year olds) timing of marriage or otherwise, timing of children and the subsequent effect on wealth/poverty due to sequencing these in different ways. Was there a 'success' sequence?
These are some of the summary findings:
A record 55% of Millennial parents (ages 28-34) have put childbearing before marriage. By comparison, when the youngest Baby Boomers (born between 1957 and 1964) were the same age and became parents, only a quarter of them had their first child before marriage.
The rise of non-traditional routes into parenthood among Millennials is one indicator that today’s young adults are taking increasingly divergent paths toward adulthood, including family formation. In fact, when it comes to family formation, overall only 40% of young adults ages 28 to 34 have moved into family life by marrying first (regardless of whether they have had any children). Another 33% have had children outside of or before marriage, and a significant share (27%) have not reached either of these traditional milestones of adulthood. By comparison, a majority of Baby Boomers (67%) had entered into family life at the same age by marrying first. A much smaller share had children before marrying (20%), or had delayed both parenthood and marriage (13%) at ages 28 to 34.
These divergent paths toward adulthood are associated with markedly different economic fortunes among Millennials. Young adults who put marriage first are more likely to find themselves in the middle or upper third of the income distribution, compared to their peers who have not formed a family and especially compared to their peers who have children before marrying. In other words, even though transitions to adulthood have become much more complex in recent decades, the most financially successful young adults today continue to be those who put marriage before the baby carriage. This pattern holds true for racial and ethnic minorities, as well as young adults from lower-income families.
Finally, 97% of Millennials who follow what has been called the “success sequence”—that is, who get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order—are not poor by the time they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28-34). The “success sequence,” so named by Brookings Institution scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, has been described as the path into adulthood that is most likely to lead towards economic success and away from poverty.
Only 3% of young adults who passed through all three milestones associated with the success sequence in its entirety—including marrying first—are poor. In contrast, 53% of young adults who did not follow this sequence at all are in poverty.
Download the report here.
Do these findings ring true in the UK?
Yes they do - see a previous blog; Four basic rules to avoid poverty.
Something to communicate widely?
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