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Gallup to Businesses: Get On Board With Social Changes, Or Else

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If you’ve been living under a rock and still question whether we’re seeing a breakdown of the traditional family, you won’t after this.

A new Gallup poll released Thursday shows while fewer Americans are getting married – or are waiting much longer to get married – than in past decades, they feel little to no compulsion against having kids in the meantime.

But rather than simply stating the numbers -- which are depressing enough -- Gallup felt compelled to throw in its two cents on how businesses – and society as a whole – should respond to the shift in morality and family structure, telling companies they should get on board with the latest “norms” or risk economic collapse. The polling agency explains:

Along with these changes, or perhaps as a result of them, social norms within American society have shifted -- and with them, nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It would be wise for marketers and business leaders to stay abreast of the kinds of changes millennials bring to American society, because understanding how this large group of consumers approaches the world -- and the marketplace -- could be lucrative. Getting it wrong, however, could hamstring and hobble a company for decades.

Gallup bases its unsolicited, liberally high-handed advice from its poll, which pretty much confirms the longstanding fears of those who believe in the personal and societal value of a traditional family structure. Data reveals only slightly more than a quarter of millennials (Americans born between 1980 and 1996) are married. A whopping 59 percent are single and have never married, while nine percent are living in domestic partnerships. From Gallup:

In the 2014 Gallup Daily tracking data, just 27% of millennials were married. According to historical U.S. Census Bureau data, 36% of Generation Xers, 48% of baby boomers and 65% of traditionalists were married when they were the age that millennials are now. For millennials currently aged 18 to 30, just 20% are married, compared with nearly 60% of 18- to 30-year-olds in 1962, according to the U.S. Census. When Gen Xers were the same age, 32% were married; for baby boomers, it was more than 40%.

But apparently, despite their reticence toward getting married until well into their 30s (a perfectly legitimate life choice), millennials are perfectly okay with having kids well before then.

The key point, however, is this: There doesn't appear to be any evidence that millennials -- both married and single/never married -- are putting off having children. Even among the small percentage (2%) of married 18-year-old millennials, less than half (44%) have no children, and the percentage decreases with age to just 17% at age 34.

And while few single 18-year-old millennials have children (4%), that percentage rises to almost half by age 34. In other words, almost half of the oldest millennials who have never married nonetheless have children. In 2000, the comparable number for Gen Xers aged 30 to 34 was just 30%.

Gallup also notes the number of Americans who say it’s “morally acceptable” to have children outside of marriage “stands at an all-time high (62% overall and 68% among millennials)” compared with 2002 levels, when just 45 percent of respondents said having children outside of marriage was morally acceptable.

The poll claims that “[t]he current data suggest that for millennials, ‘having children someday’ does not necessarily depend on being married.”

Gallup summed up their polling results:

Domestic partnerships -- not common in general -- are much more common among millennials, and millennials are more than twice as likely as older Americans to identify as LGBT. No doubt this is a reflection of changing social standards within the larger American community. These last observations about marriage, family and sexuality tend to point to a generation that is beginning to rethink and reconstruct social norms to better fit its wants and needs, throwing off convention when it no longer serves a compelling purpose.

In other words: "We do what we want, and screw the consequences."

And you'd better get with it.

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