Marriage rates are down and the number of never-married adults is up.
In 2012, one in five individuals who were 25 or older had never been married while in 1960, that ratio was one in ten. In 1960, the typical woman got married when she was 20 and her new husband was 23. Now 27 is the median age for a woman’s first marriage and 29 for a man.
Being “never married” though does not mean you are single. Close to one quarter of young adults, age 24 to 35, have a partner with whom they are living.
Where are we going? To the impact of a credit score on a relationship.
What We Want in a Mate
Still though, marriage remains a goal for a majority of non-married individuals. The Pew survey that is the source of our data tells us that 53 percent of all never-married adults hope to tie the knot and another 32 percent are not sure.
Asked what they are looking for in a potential spouse, the men and women are pretty similar except in the “steady job” category:
However, a new Fed paper says if you want a suitable mate, you need not share how you feel about children, jobs, religion and education. Instead, just ask the person’s credit card score.
The Meaning of a Credit Card Score
Looking at data from millions of adults during a fifteen year period, research in a Federal Reserve paper indicates that a credit card score is a lot more than a number.
Two adults who co-habit (who may or may not be married but are in a committed relationship) are more likely to form a long lasting tie if their credit card scores are both high. Because getting a mortgage or an auto loan will be easier, the hassles that divide couples are minimized. Even smaller credit related commitments like cell phone contracts will not loom as large. Consequently, pairs who both have better credit tend to stay together.
By contrast, when cohabiting adults have different or low credit scores, the financial stress accelerates. Divergent scores mean the higher one is dragged down by the lower number or the person with better credit has to take on the loan. When both have poor credit, everyday life has extra tension. The result? More of these couples separate.
Interestingly, the Fed’s researchers suggest that your credit card score reflects your trustworthiness. As the key to non-financial relationships, trustworthiness is an attribute that spills over in almost all that we do. If you have a high credit score, you are probably trustworthy…and if you are more trustworthy, then your interpersonal connections will be more successful.
Our Bottom Line: Income Inequality
Called assortative mating, couples with similar attributes form pairs. When those attributes are high credit card scores, elevated earning power and more years of college, the income gap widens because of the extra earning power these couples generate.
So, if a date asks for your number–that person might not mean your cell phone.