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Number of married Americans hits record low (2)

Earlier this week, we began a discussion of the steady decline in married adults in Nevada and throughout the U.S. Currently, 51 percent of adults over the age of 17 are married in the U.S., and experts believe that number will only continue to drop in the coming years. The marriage rate has similarly declined in other industrialized countries throughout the world.

While researchers from the Pew Research Center did not focus on the causes of the decline in marriages in the U.S., they did set forth a few hypotheses. Divorce may be one possible reason for the decline. But because the divorce rate has basically leveled off in the past 20 years, researchers believe it is unlikely to have significantly affected the marriage rate.

Interestingly, the decline in marriages has not been as steep among adults with college educations than those without. Researchers are not sure of the reason for this. Previously, college-educated people waited longer to marry, partially explaining the increase in the median age of first marriages, but in recent years people of all demographics are marrying later.

Researchers also believe that societal attitudes may also be responsible for the decline in marriage. In a 2010 survey, approximately 40 percent of respondents stated their belief that marriage has become obsolete. Certainly, with the increasing acceptance of cohabitation, single parenthood and same-sex relationships, this may be the case. However, the majority of respondents reported that they would like to be married someday, perhaps indicating that marriage will continue to be relevant in future years.

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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