The primary risk of the feminist strategy to delay marriage is that once a cohort of women finally reach their late twenties/early thirties and is ready to switch from Alpha F*cks to Beta Bucks, the the cohort of Beta men they are counting on may not follow the script. There are a number of ways this can happen. One is that a percentage of the Betas could decide they’ve become accustomed to remaining unmarried, and decide to pass on the suddenly reformed party girls demanding that they “put a ring on it”. But reformed party girls can be very persuasive, so they may be able to overcome this initial resistance.
However there is another way this can play out that soon-to-be-reformed party girls should take more seriously. The Betas they are counting on to focus on education and career during their teens and twenties (in order to be able to play the Beta Bucks role in their 30s) might elect to coast instead. If this happens, persuasion won’t help. The unprepared men can no more go back and focus their teens and 20s on education and career than the party girls can go back and focus their youth and fertility on a husband.
The thing about the delayed marriage trick is it works really well at first. Women can delay marriage but their male peers will tend to prepare to marry based on what they observe happening to the men 5-10 years older than them. By the time the younger men find out that their generation of women had other plans, for the most part they will already be solidly on the provider track. Given no other choice, waiting a few more years is what nearly all will do. But over time each new generation of men is going to see the delayed proof of what is going on. The signal that being a Beta provider pays off in the form of first a girlfriend, and then marriage weakens as fewer of the men 5-10 years older than them have this happen. Eventually you will have a group of teen men who see marriage as so far off that the future reward isn’t worth working so hard to prepare for. This won’t happen all at once, but over time more and more of the men who were less motivated to begin with will begin to coast more and more, or simply become distracted along the way. Many will begin to work like women.
I was able to pull a comparison of marriage rates by three year cohort in 2017 and 2003 using the Census CPS data tool. I’m showing the data for White Non Hispanic below which reduces potential shifts caused by immigration, but you can view the same data for all races as well. Since the bars represent the percent of men who had never married by the given age, higher bars indicate less marriage:
Note that the arrows point out the weakened signal for Generation Z men, because Gen Y men would have been looking at Gen X marriage trends when they were coming of age, just as Gen X men were looking at Boomer trends when they were young.
While it is obvious that women won’t be able to continue delaying marriage forever without a highly visible reaction from men, it isn’t clear how long such a response will take. Gen Z men, and indeed the generation that follows them, might continue preparing to be Beta providers while their peers spend over a decade riding the carousel. We shall have to wait and see.
Edit: Generation markers based on dates listed here. I originally calculated the generation dividing lines for 2017 using 2018 to calculate age. I’ve updated the charts to correct the error.