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."
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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.