Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

For Millennials, Parenthood Trumps Marriage

Throughout history, marriage and parenthood have been linked milestones on the journey to adulthood. But for the young adults of the Millennial Generation, these social institutions are becoming delinked and differently valued.

Today’s 18- to 29-year-olds value parenthood far more than marriage. A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 52% of Millennials say that being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life. In comparison, just 30% say the same about having a successful marriage, resulting in a 22 percentage point gap in Millennials’ views of the importance of parenthood and marriage.

When this question was posed to 18- to 29-year-olds in 1997, the gap was just 7 percentage points. Back then, 42% of members of Generation X said that being a good parent was one of the most important things in life, while 35% said the same about having a successful marriage.

Our surveys also find that Millennials are less likely than adults ages 30 and older to say that a child needs a home with both a father and mother to grow up happily. They are also less likely to view single parenthood and unmarried couple parenthood are bad for society. Read More