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Number of married Americans hits record low (1)

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the number of married people in the U.S. has reached an all-time low, and just over half of American adults are currently married. At the same time, the median age of first marriage is the highest it has ever been for both men and women, indicating major shifts in societal views of marriage and its importance.

The Pew report states that 51 percent of adults aged 18 and over are married, continuing the steady decline from the peak marriage rates of the 1960s and 1970s. Researchers are not completely sure of the reason for the decline, but believe that college education, divorce, single parenthood, cohabitation, and a growing belief that marriage is outdated and unnecessary may all play a part.

While the decrease in married adults has occurred in all age groups, it is the highest among young adults. In 1960, nearly 60 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 were married. Today, only 20 percent of that age group is married. In addition, the median age for a first marriage has now reached its peak, at 26.5 years for women and 28.7 years for men.

One statistic has remained fairly high: the number of American adults who have been married at least once. That number is currently 72 percent, down just 13 points from 85 percent in 1960. It will be interesting to see whether this number changes in the next 20 or so years as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

We will continue our discussion of this topic in a second blog post later this week with a look at the reasons for the decrease in marriages.

Source: Pew Research Center, “Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low,” D’Vera Cohn, Jeffrey Passel, Wendy Wang and Gretchen Livingston, Dec. 14, 2011

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