According to research carried out at the German Institute for the Study of Labour, the rise of better and free access to internet pornography is responsible for people increasingly deciding not to get married.
Experts studied trends in marriage and internet porn proliferation and said the increased availability and reduced cost of pornography on the internet had a “causal” effect on people deciding not to tie the knot.
“Traditionally, one of the reasons to enter into a marriage was sexual gratification. But as options for sexual gratification outside of marriage have grown, the need for a marriage to serve this function is diminishing,” a researcher said.
They noted that a “sizeable portion of the Internet” consisted of pornography and that it had seen a “rapid” rise in the same period as marriage had declined in popularity.
The researchers modelled the behaviour of people deciding whether to get married, and noted:
“If a man can choose whether to get married at the beginning of the period, higher utility from marriage is required in order for the man to marry. Thus, cheaper pornography is unequivocally associated with lower marriage rates.”
The internet not only lowered the monetary cost of pornography, but also the social cost of accessing it, they found.
This was because people are less likely to suffered “stigma” for access a website in private than purchasing a magazine from a shop.
Overall “cheaper pornography makes it easier to stay single”, they concluded.
The researchers did however identify one way in which access to pornography could promote marriage: people could be more willing to tie the knot if the cost of divorce was lowered by pornography.
The researchers also noted that users of pornography were less likely to attend church, more likely to cheat on their partner, and more likely to either engage in or pay for sex work.
Citing another earlier study, the researchers noted that the rise in pornography was also associated with a fall in the incidence of rape.