As the number of marriages decline in the U.S. researchers conclude the reason is young couples fear divorce.

Research by demographers at Cornell University and the University of Central Oklahoma show that cohabiting couples don’t get married because they afraid of getting divorced.

The study found that about 67 percent of the participants were concerned about divorce, but despite their concerns middle class subjects were more interested in tying the knot and thought of cohabitation to be a first step into marriage compared to their working-class counterparts.

A recent analysis of U.S. Census data from the Pew Research Center found that just 51 percent of all American adults are currently married, a record low. The study also found the median age for first marriages has never been higher for brides at 26.5 years of age and for grooms at 28.7 years of age.

In the Cornell and Central Oklahoma study, lower income women spoke of their fears about being “trapped,” as they were concerned that it could be hard to walk away from a marriage if things went wrong and that it may lead to more responsibilities.

The study also found that working class couples living together were more likely to believe that marriage was “just a piece of paper.”

The working class were also twice as likely to admit concerns about eventually relying on their spouses income and feeling as if they were “stuck” in a marriage.

The full study "The Specter of Divorce: Views from Working and Middle-Class Cohabitors," can be found in the journal Family Relations.