Jim Daly, president of Christian organization Focus on the Family, is encouraging young people to follow the so-called “success sequence,” which essentially means pursuing an education and marriage before having kids.
In fact, Daly penned a blog post this week breaking down the specifics. He wrote, “Here’s what the success sequence looks like: Get at least a high school education, work full-time, get married, have children – in that order.”
But Daly said that federal data reveals many Millennials are simply ignoring this sequence of events, with the Institute for Family Studies and the American Enterprise Institute finding that more than half — 55 percent — of 28 to 34 year old Millennial parents had their first kid before they tied the knot.
Here’s the most interesting metric, though: Millennials who got married before having kids are experiencing the most financial success, according to the data. Some might chalk this all up to financial and income inequality, but there are some important caveats.
The study, titled, “The Millennial Success Sequence: Marriage, Kids, and the ‘Success Sequence’ Among Young Adults,” found that the traditional route also brought more financial stability to low-income families.
Text from the executive summary provides a snapshot of how today’s youth adults are forming familial bonds:
The rise of nontraditional 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.
This, of course, raises a plethora of questions and curiosities, and it’s an issue Daly is clearly passionate about.
“It’s important that young people, lawmakers, voters, and community leaders know about the importance of achieving life’s milestones in the order that will lead to success,” he concluded in his blog post.
And Daly might not be too far off, as the study found that marrying before having children has a sweeping impact on financial stability. In fact, according to the data, marrying first “more than doubles young adults’ odds of being in the middle or top income tier” — and that’s after adjusting for childhood family income, education, employment, ethnicity and race, among other factors.
You can read the study for yourself here.