As I’ve mentioned before, women delaying marriage are playing a collective game of chicken in order to avoid wasting any more of their youth and fertility on their husbands than absolutely necessary. Obviously not all women are playing this game, but those who are delaying marriage are implicitly betting that the men their own age or a few years older than them will ultimately decide marrying an older, less fertile, more demanding and more sexually promiscuous bride is better than not marrying at all. For this to work younger women need to continue to be driven by greed (therefore keeping up the marriage delaying trend), and the men in question need to be driven by fear of ending up alone. While we are seeing signs that it is getting more difficult for marriage delaying women on the margins, the basic bet has so far panned out.
Still, there is always the risk that an inherent limit will be reached which could disrupt the strategy. For example, we already have an indication that delayed marriage is reducing the incentive for men to work to become providers. The risk here is that never married late twenties and early 30s women could start to panic, and this panic could spread to younger women. If early to mid twenties women were to switch from greed to fear, the older marriage delayers could end up being squeezed out of marriage by younger and more attractive brides. But beyond the problems with the weakened signal creating a shortage of eligible 30 something husbands, there is also the risk that eventually marriage will be delayed long enough for the SMV tables to turn. If this happens, men will be the ones driven by greed instead of fear, and the resulting panic by marriage delaying women would only reinforce this.
While we are certainly seeing changes on the margins, I don’t think we have enough data to suggest that we are witnessing a sea change regarding delayed marriage. However, Vox Day recently quoted an article in The Atlantic which shows exactly what a man moving from fear to greed as his SMV increases with age looks like. The Atlantic author misreads the change as being due to the technology of online dating, but online dating only makes it easier for the sex with the SMV advantage to be pickier.
From The Atlantic: A Million First Dates