According to analysis done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Panel — as well as data from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) — millennials are broke because they're having children before they're married.
A record number of millennial parents (55%) have have children before getting married, and the new data seems to indicate that this is a financial misstep. The analysis found that "the most financially successful young adults today continue to be those who put marriage before the baby carriage."
The findings support what has been called "the success sequence," which says that the path away from poverty and toward economic success means first earning at least a high school diploma, then getting a full-time job, and finally getting married and having kids.
Reports from the AEI and IFS say that only 3% of millennials who follow the success sequence are poor by the time they enter their 30s. The flip side of that is that 53% millennials who don't follow the sequence are in poverty.
Of course there are exceptions to these rules, and hurdles to overcome to hit all of the steps, particularly if a person was brought up in a poorer community. But the advice for economic success seems to remain the same: first comes high school, then comes work, and then comes the baby in the baby carriage.