Percentage Of Married US Adults Drops To Record Low
December 15, 2011

Percentage Of Married US Adults Drops To Record Low

The number of Americans who are married has reached a record low of just 51 percent, and will fall to below half within a few years, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center.

The figures represent a steep decline in marriage rates since 1960, when 72% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older were married.

The decline in marriage rates has coincided with an increase in cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood, the Pew researchers said.

The most dramatic drop occurred among adults aged 18 to 29, of which just 20 percent were married last year, compared with 59 percent in 1960.

“It is not yet known whether today´s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it,” the Pew Research Center said.

“Even at a time when barely half of the adult population is married, a much higher share– 72%–have been married at least once.”

“However, this “ever married” share is down from 85% in 1960.”

The median age at first marriage also reached a record high, at 26.5 years for women and 28.7 years for men.  The number has risen by about six years for both women and men over the past 50 years, according to the analysis.

The decline in the number of newly married adults–from 4.4 million in 2009 to 4.2 million in 2010–was shared among all age groups, but was particularly sharp for the youngest adults.

The number of adults aged 18-24 who recently married dropped 13% between 2009 and 2010, the researchers said, citing American Community Survey estimates.

Pew´s analysis also found that the number of new marriages among all age groups in the U.S. fell by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010.

The full report can be viewed here.