Sue Shellenbarger had a great article in the Wall Street Journal last week about the changing demographics of and attitudes about marriage:

Remember the movie “Love Story” and its star-crossed student lovers? Such torrid campus romances may be becoming a thing of the past. College life has become so competitive, and students so focused on careers, that many aren’t looking for spouses anymore.

Replacing college as the top marital hunting ground is the office. Only 14% of people who are married or in a relationship say they met their partners in school or college, says a 2006 Harris Interactive study of 2,985 adults; 18% met at work. That’s a reversal from 15 years ago, when 23% of married couples reported meeting in school or college and only 15% cited work, according to a 1992 study of 3,432 adults by the University of Chicago.

Shellenbarger points to a number of factors behind this shift, including that young people are increasingly delaying marriage in general, but focuses mainly on the effects of the pressure to obtain a graduate degree or otherwise climb the corporate latter quickly:

Also at work is “credential inflation” — an increase in the qualifications required for many skilled jobs, says Janet Lever, a sociology professor at California State University, Los Angeles. Many young adults want the flexibility to relocate freely and immerse themselves in new work and educational opportunities before making room for marriage and family. As a result, students favor “light relationships that aren’t going to compromise where they go to grad school or which job they take,” she says.

Cody Cheetham, 22, a Purdue senior, is looking for a marketing job after she graduates in May and plans on getting an MBA. “A lot of us don’t even know where we’re going to be living six months after we graduate,” she says. “We don’t want to bring another person into the chaos of our lives.”

That last point often goes unnoticed, but I think Shellenbarger is right on. It meshes nicely with the student interviews from Unhooked. The sad truth is that many young men and women view a committed relationship as a distraction to their academic and professional goals. 

More here.