The New York TimesThe New York Times

To be happy, marriage matters more than career

By David Brooks

17 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Many young adults in the U.S. prioritize their professional life over marriage. According to a recent survey analysis, 75% of adults aged 18 to 40 believe making a good living is crucial to fulfillment in life, while only 32% thought marriage was crucial.

When I’m around young adults I like to ask them how they are thinking about the big commitments in their lives: what career to go into, where to live, whom to marry. Most of them have thought a lot about their career plans. But my impression is that many have not thought a lot about how marriage will fit into their lives.

The common operating assumption seems to be that professional life is at the core of life and that marriage would be something nice to add on top sometime down the road. According to an analysis of recent survey data by University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox, 75% of adults ages 18 to 40 said that making a good living was crucial to fulfillment in life while only 32% thought that marriage was crucial to fulfillment. In a Pew Research Center survey, 88% of parents said it was “extremely or very” important for their kids to be financially independent, while only 21% said it was “extremely or very” important for their kids to marry.

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