One of the questions that comes up when we look at lower marriage rates as well as delayed age of marriage is which sex is driving the change. Compounding the problem is the relationship between the two, and the fact that the answers could be different. For example, it seems plausible that women are delaying marriage in their early twenties, and that men who wanted to marry when young are less inclined to marry an older woman later in life.
Given the message aimed at women, the celebration of the feminist merit badge and hookup culture as empowerment for young women, and who holds the SMP/MMP power position when young, I think it is safe to say that it is preferences of women which is driving the delay we have seen in the past decades in age of marriage.
I took the same source data and plotted out the difference between the values for men and women by year. Here is what it looks like going back to 1890. Note that prior to 1947 the data has gaps, which is why the chart immediately above started at 1950:
My initial thought is that if men were interested in delaying marriage and women weren’t, we would expect to see a significant increase in this delta over time, especially as the median age of marriage increases. Instead it looks like 2 years is a very steady gap.
I’m not entirely through thinking this over, but thought you my readers might want to consider the issue and offer your own thoughts.