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First Comes Love … Then What?


October 21, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – The cost of weddings often seems to be a big factor in why young Canadian couples decide not to get married, but a new analysis of Statistics Canada data finds there’s a much bigger reason: Maybe they just “don’t believe in the institution of marriage.” In fact, the new Cardus report, For Love or Money: Why Canadian Young Adults Marry … or Don’t, finds that’s the top reason both men and women aged 25 to 34 and in a couple say they’ll skip tying the knot. Almost half of men in this age group who are part of a couple and don’t want to marry cite this as their top reason for not getting married. Among women in the same group and situation, 39 percent say the same thing.

“Clearly there are big, cultural factors at work in why young Canadians choose not to marry,” says Peter Jon Mitchell, co-author of the report. “Considering that married couples have gone from 91 percent of families in the 1970s to just 66 percent in the 2016 census, it’s clear there’s a societal shift here that deserves attention and more study.”

As for the cost of weddings, only one in 10 women aged 25 to 34 name that as their reason for not getting married to their current partner. For men, at about 17 percent, it’s a distant second to disbelief in the institution of marriage.

When it comes to reasons for saying “I do” and getting married, almost half of Canadians aged 25 to 34 who intend to marry their partner name “proof of love and commitment” as their top motivation. That’s followed by about 14 percent who name “next step/logical advancement of the relationship.”

“Marriage is not for everyone, but the weight of academic research on the subject shows that marriage is associated with benefits for couples and their children, and for the wider society,” says Mitchell. “Healthy marriage contributes to family stability, with social and economic benefits for neighbourhoods and communities. There’s an obvious need for increased availability of information about the benefits of healthy, stable marriage, which could inform young Canadians’ decisions about partnership.”

For Love or Money: Why Canadian Young Adults Marry … or Don’t is freely available online.


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