Is the Economy to Blame for Decline in Marriages and Families?

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RENO, Nev. -- The economy makes it difficult to afford basic necessities in life, but does money play a factor when it comes to marriage and having children?

A family unit is said to be the basic building block of society, but society is likely to collapse if marriages and new births decline.

According to a Pew survey, one in five young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 have delayed having a child and have also postponed their marriage because of the economic slowdown. Ministers, wedding planners and hospitals say the local community has not been impervious.

The days of holy matrimony and elaborate weddings are over, but it's more than finances that have played a part.

George Flint, a minister and owner of Chapel of the Bells blames the lack of marriages on the physical appearance of Reno.

"There's no question that our economy has had a negative effect, but in a particular case in reno, the numbers of couples coming here have fallen off so drastically that that kind of overshadows the negativity of the economy," he said. "That decline in the economy mirrors the decline in our tourism generally."

The number of tourists coming to the Biggest Little City are on the decline, which are 80 percent of his clientele.

Fortunately for him, weddings are much more inexpensive in Nevada than in California, Arizona and Oregon.

"If it wasn't for the local business right now, we probably would be defunct," Flint said.

Flint also says that a strong work ethic and family savings have kept Chapel of the Bells alive.

Times are changing, which means tradition is no longer a priority.

"An awful lot of weddings also right now are also coupled my age around 50s, 60s and 70s that have been living together for how long," Flint said.

As more couples wait to head over to the altar, the thought of having children is also put on the back-burner.

"I think people are delaying child birth to see what's going to happen with the economy--that combined with the Reno situation--there's been a mass exodus of people leaving our area for jobs," Shelley Samm, Birth & Delivery manager at Renown Health.

Since 2010, Samm has seen a drop of birthrates go from about 400 births a month, to 300, but says couples should not wait too long to start a family.

"If you wait to see if you can afford to have a baby, you may never have a baby, so sometimes we just have to take the plunge and get it done."