Millennials are starting their families later in life than previous generations did.
A recent study from Pew Research Center highlights the differences between millennials and previous generations, with the former lagging significantly in the areas of starting a family and having kids.
With the oldest millennials nearing 40, the data found that only 55% of them live with a family of their own, which is defined as living with a spouse, a child, or both. The report notes that this figure is far smaller than that of previous generations when they were at the same age, with Generation X at 66%, Baby Boomers at 69% and the Silent Generation at 85%.
Of the percentage of millennials who do live with their own families, only 30% of them live with both their spouse and their children, while 13% live with only a spouse and 12% care for a child without a spouse. While the figures for single parents and childless couples are similar to previous generations, the percentage of complete families living together has fallen significantly, with 40% in GenX, and as much as 70% in the Silent Generation.
The report went on to note that millennial women are less likely to have given birth than previous generations were at the same age. Although about 55% of millennial women have given birth, they tend to do so later in life. Of the women who do have children, however, the number of children per mother is practically the same as previous generations. The study also found that roughly a third of millennial mothers are unmarried, with only a third of millennial men living with children at all, married or otherwise.
A report from Christopher White, of Crux Now, explored the findings of the Pew study and the data’s ramifications of Catholic parish life. White spoke with Christian Smith, professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and the Director of the Global Religion Research Initiative, who said:
“American religion and American family are closely connected,” he told Crux. “If people are not engaging in family formation, if they’re delaying that or never having families, they’re going to be much less likely to be involved in the Church.” “All of these social changes are connected to a weakening of parish life,” he added, ultimately undermining it.
Smith went on to suggest that the strengthening of the family, and thus the Church, may come down to parents making religious education a priority. He said:
“Without that, no other program or anything is going to make a difference. The crucial actor is the parents,” he said. “If you find committed strong Catholic kids, you’re almost going to certainly find they had parents that were really invested, that made this a priority, and it carried on to the next generation.”