Study: Number of U.S. married couples at record low
Brides are in abundance in some places, like Colombia this month during a mass wedding, but nuptials are down elsewhere.
December 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Study: Number of U.S. married couples at record low

The number of married couples in the United States is at a record low, according to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center.

Numbers released Wednesday show 51% of American adults are married, a 5% drop from the previous year in new nuptials. The median age that people get married has risen to 26.5 years for brides and 28.7 for grooms.

Read the Pew Research Center report on marriage

The numbers reflect an increase in other living arrangements that have taken hold for American adults, such as cohabitation, divorce, single parenting and the rise of grandfamilies.

If current trends continue, in just a few years there will be more single Americans than married.

In 1960, nearly 60% of  young adults age 18 to 29 were married. Today, 20% have tied the knot.

Experts say America has undergone a cultural shift when it comes to getting hitched.

More U.S. couples living together, study says

“In the 1950s, if you weren’t married, people thought you were mentally ill,” Andrew J. Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist, told the Washington Post.  “Marriage was mandatory. Now it’s culturally optional.”

Natasha Medina, a single woman in Los Angeles and founder of Medina Muze Management, a firm that represents production artists, said the traditional relationship between men and women has changed in the past 50 years.

Women have taken control of their careers and life, she said, “while at the same time men have asked their women to be superwomen,” she said. “We’ve been asked to be business-oriented, a mother, a cook, a great wife … something’s got to give."

Marriage’s eroding “market share” is evident not just in the United States, but all advanced post-industrial societies, the study said, regardless of economic factors.

Along racial lines, the statistics varied greatly: In 1960, 74% of whites were wed. Today 55% are married. Among blacks 31% are married; in 1960, 61% reported being hitched. For Hispanics, 48% are married today, compared with 72% in 1960.

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soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Good, all these petty morals people have don't mean a thing. I have stayed single all my life and LOVE IT. Do what I WANT to do on my spare time. Had it so good, so long it would have to be someone pretty DAMM SPECIAL for me to change! People are are too insecure, if they aren't feeding off another person they bore themselves to death, when they have to face themselves. Married people I know who always told me I should get married back in the 80s are divorsed now. Know some who are married though. GLAD I stayed truthful to myself, never used anyone, only had 3 short affairs in my life so far. Several women I know who are femminists are hypocrites, failures who are insecure. Married because they don't want to grow old along. Glad I'm me, a free agent.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeinchains2321

      Morals don't mean a thing? God binds us so He can free us, Satan frees us so he can bind us. We'll see who's the free agent when you are facing the consequences for the life you're leading.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Selfish may be a more apt self assessment.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanSam

      I can understand the pleasure involved in being single and being able to sleep with whomever you want, but when it actually hits you that you and everyone you know are going to be dead one day, you'll realize what you wanted more than an unlimited number of people to experience an orgasm with was one person to really share your life with. Growing old with someone you've shared a deep, deep love with has got to be the best way to deal with death than I can think of. If you live long enough, you'll grow old, too. And when you know you're about to die, the things that you really wanted in life will become clear to you. I promise you, real, genuine love will be on your mind then.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan

    Sorry, that second to last line should read "grow old alone" of 221.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    @Dan:
    As long as you're happy, nothing else matters, does it?
    Marriage means different things to different people.
    If you've never wanted to be married, good for you!
    At least you know your own mind, and getting married for the wrong reasons will inevitably lead to divorce.

    Again, to anyone:
    Don't want to get married?
    Stay single.
    Who gives a flying fig what the studies say?
    It's *your* life.
    Live it.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. willoghby Lewis

    Iread this article with great interest.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kiara

    We have to take into consideration young adults today don't get married. People get married later in life. I am 24 and am already divorced. Marriage blows!

    December 15, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Firstly

    If you are living together, it's called common law marriage. Like taking something precious and pure and viewing it as common, disposable.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
    • espsu07

      That statement is incorrect. Commonlaw marriage is very specific and only recongnized by 11 states. In order to be recognized as marriage, the couple must intend to live together as man and wife for a set length of time, and make declarations as such. The term "common law" refers to the fact that the marriage is recongnized pursuant to the common law, rather than the statutory law. It has nothing to do with it being viewed as "common" rather than "special".

      December 15, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Hah!

    I'll bet you're divorced, Firstly, ain'tcha? You sound too pious to be married to a mere woman!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bill

    Looks like that old saying..."why buy the cow, etc..." is becoming the way of things. Good. Nothing like a his, hers, theirs, ours, etc. situation to gum up lives. Gals have taken the reins in much of our society since most men can't seem to grow up and assume any responsibility and leadership nowadays. So they get an education and put it to use while the guys play fraternity lifestyle til they're 45 or so...too late, you lose!

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Desiray

    Wow...what a bunch of bitter men commenting on this! Keep your sour views on marriage because from what I've read it would be hell for any woman that DOES marry you! These comments are just proof that fear of commitment is becoming an epidemic.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sibyl

    I feel like marriage is obsolete, because of government snooping around too much to find out financial statuses of married couples, in order for couples to receive certain government subsidies. Couples would rather live together than get married, just to keep the government from snooping on them.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. never again

    There is a fast growing segment of men who will never marry again. Women initiate 70 percent of divorces, and when this happens, it is generally the men who come out the financial losers. The Bible states that adultery leads to poverty, but in the U.S. women are compensated in the short term after a divorce. The long term however, is usually not as bright as far as finances go for females. Wedding vows are virtually meaningless today, it is as if we are still playing high school "make up/breakup games, instead of dealing with the reality of real life. I know a ton of men who feel the same as I do. If you have a decent income and some assets built up, keep them close to your chest fellows, there are enough guys out there with not much to lose that the girls can play with. After all, these guys can be a real charmer hiding behind facebook or myspace. Let them pay for their spouse's infidelity, the rest should keep hoarding their resources, because we all will be old some day and we might just need it in our golden years.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mark L.

    @ banasy© – I could NOT agree with you more. (FYI – I am Single and I ♥ It...Wouldn't have it any other way...{:o)

    December 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
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    May 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Custody Law Attorneys

    You realize therefore considerably relating to this topic, produced me for my part imagine it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women don't seem to be interested until it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. At all times deal with it up!

    September 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
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