Story first appeared in USA TODAY.

The dismal economy is having a profound effect on the American way of life, from delaying marriage and divorce to reducing car ownership and private school enrollment, according to new Census data.

Lingering bad times may alter expectations and lifestyles for years to come, some demographers say.
It’s going to have a long-term impact and to say it’s going to end is optimistic.
The Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey sent detailed annual questionnaires to 4.4 million people and was conducted separately from the 2010 Census.
What could become the new normal:
?Marrying later. The median age of first marriage has crept up to 28.7 for men and 26.7 for women, up from 27.5 and 25.9 respectively in 2006.
At the same time, fewer people are taking a trip to the altar, period. If the marriage rate had stayed the same as in 2006, there would have been about 4 million more married people in 2010.
?Fewer babies. There were 200,000 fewer births to women ages 20 to 34 in 2010 than just two years before even though the number of women in this prime age for having children grew by more than 1 million.
The recession is the likely cause. Economic recessions often reduce fertility because women delay ? in uncertain times.
?Breaking up is harder to do. Divorces, which have been sliding for 25 years as people wait longer or choose to live together before tying the knot, continue to drop. There were about 65,000 fewer divorces in 2010 than in 2008, a 7% drop. This is not good news for a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer.
Part of that is the long-term trend, but some are convinced that some couples are delaying divorce because they can’t afford to set up separate houses.
?Crowded living. After decades of steady increases, the share of solo households has stayed flat at just above 27% since 2006.
Unemployment and foreclosures are forcing more people to double up. Households that shared their homes with other relatives climbed from 6.7% in 2006 to 7.2% in 2010. Those sharing space with non-relatives have increased, too: 5.8% from 5.4%.
?Nobody’s home. The home vacancy rate, a direct consequence of the housing collapse and record foreclosures, rose again in 2010 to 13.1% compared with 12.6% in 2009 and 11.6% in 2006.
?Driving solo. When people are not working, they don’t carpool. The share of people ages 16 to 64 who worked dropped significantly in all but one of the 50 largest metropolitan areas (New Orleans). That has helped push the share of people driving to work alone from 76% in 2006 to 76.6% in 2010. Ride-sharing is down a full percentage point, to 9.7%.
The share of households without a car rose again to 9.1% vs. 8.8% in 2006. Households with two or more cars dropped from 58% to 57.1%.
?Going public. Private school enrollment is declining from 13.6% in 2006 to 12.8%.
The scary thing is that we’re seeing the impact unfold in the younger age groups. Many college graduates are employed in jobs paying close to minimum wage with no benefits. These people are not going to be buying houses and they’re certainly postponing marriage. We’re just in the middle of a big transition.


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