Americans getting older, marrying later, census data show
Husband-wife married couples are heads of 48.4% of U.S. households, down from the 51.7% mark 10 years ago
May 26th, 2011
12:02 AM ET

Americans getting older, marrying later, census data show

America is older and more middle-aged-looking than ever before.

That’s the take-away from a new dump of data the U.S. Census Bureau released on Thursday morning as part of its efforts to quantify American life.

In demographer-speak, the median age of the United States is now 37.2, according to census data. That means there are the same number of people older than that age as younger. Or, in everyday-language, the country is approaching that ripe old age of 40.

“Forty makes it sound like a middle-aged country,” said Carl Schmertmann, an economics professor at Florida State University’s Center for Demography and Population Health.

The current U.S. median age is older than ever before, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

Go back to 2000 - ah, to be young again - and the median age of the country was  35.3, he said. But don’t let all this middle-age talk make you think the country is aging uniformly.

CNNMoney: Where people are oldest

The Northeast is generally much older than the Southwest. In this sense, the nation is dividing itself by age, said Frey.

“There’s a splitting apart of the country in terms of places that are undergoing extreme aging and those that are undergoing some aging,” he said.

Utah, for example, is the youngest state, with a median age of 29.2. Maine is the oldest. Median age: 42.7 years.

(For trivia fans, Frey says a state has never had a median age over 40 until now. West Virginia was the oldest state 10 years ago, he said, with a median age of 38.9. In 2010, West Virginia's median age was 41.3).

There’s an interesting racial component to this, too. Older generations of Americans, particularly those in the Northeast, tend to include few people who identify as Hispanic. Meanwhile, among younger people, the Hispanic population is booming.

Schmertmann, who is a baby boomer, said he sees this at his university. He has almost no Hispanic peers, but a huge chunk of his students is Hispanic.

This plays out in the stats as well, according to Frey’s analysis.

The median age for non-Hispanic white Americans is 41. For people who identify as Hispanic, it’s 27.

Among the other tidbits and factoids from the census:

Fewer households are headed by a husband and wife

Husband-wife married couples are the heads of only 48.4% of U.S. households, according to the census. That’s down from the 51.7% mark 10 years ago, said Frey.

Overall, household types are getting more diverse, with young people choosing to stay single longer and have kids later.

Opinion: The commitment-phobe generation

Husband-wife families with children make up only a fifth of households in the 2010 census. Compare that with the 1960s, when more than four in 10 households fit into that cookie-cutter mold.

Mexicans make up a greater share of the Hispanic population

In 2010, 63% of the U.S. Hispanic population is Mexican in origin, up 4.5% from 10 years ago, according to Frey’s analysis. “If you look at the Hispanic population, it’s a little more Mexican than what it was before,” he said.

More than half of the country's Hispanic population lives in three states: Texas, California and Florida. New York, Los Angeles and Houston have the highest numbers of Hispanic people.

There are more than 50 million Hispanic people in the country; this demographic group accounted for more than half of all U.S. growth in the past 10 years, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Indian immigrants are rivaling the Chinese

Chinese people still make up the biggest part of the U.S. Asian population, but Indian-Americans are catching up and now have the No. 2 spot.

“They’re more dispersed, and they’re growing more rapidly,” Frey said of Indian immigrants. “Sometime soon they’re going to overcome the Chinese, who have a higher share of the Asian population.”

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Filed under: Census
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT

    No matter what the age demographics are,we're still a sick society as evidenced recently by the reaction to the bloody murder on May2 last of the supposed Ussama bin Laden by the people taking to the streets in celebration. This right-wing lynch-mob mentality says a lot about the people and it's not pretty!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dano

      Thank you for your concern. Enjoy your stay in la-la land.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Blair

      Awww... were you saddened to hear he was killed? Was he your role model or something? Or are you just one of those short sighted idiots that so quickly forgets how many deaths he was responsible.... even long before 9/11.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Not So Right

      If anything, I'm way more left than right and I was pretty pleased about the whole thing as well. Bin Laden lived for nothing other than to make our lives difficult and try to destroy our way of life. If it's a choice between him or us, you'll pardon me if I choose us.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Goro

      The point that RUFFNUTT is making is that people should never celebrate death. Everyone is happy that Al qaeda is weakened and bin Laden can never cause havoc again but celebrating death is barbaric.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Are you serious? So was the world not to rejoice in the death of Hitler and the fall of the Third Reich? Was it not cool when Stalin and the Soviet Union fell? Bin Laden was a mass murdering lunatic who instructed thousands of others to do the same. The deaths of tens of thousands of innocents over his long career of a psycho were answered when he took two to the head. I will always celebrate the death of evil. I'm centrist at this point in my life, but I've never voted republican.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Sorry RN, but I'm a liberal pinko and I'm totally pumped we popped OBL in the melon. I think we sold off too many of our rights to get there and didn't need to resort to torture because the information that lead to him was procured during standard interrogation sessions.
      Our sickness is that we are lazy, complacent, given to wishful thinking and can't seem to handle the real job of managing our countries affairs any more.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Osama bin Laden was to America what the Palestinians( Hamas) are to Israel, He wanted to see the US destroyed just like they want to see Israel destroyed.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • ScottM

      And we will be doing it again when we get Zahwahiri !!! I will take the lynchmob crack as a good thing !!!
      Go back to what ever camel infested S*&T hole you came from and enjoy it.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • JoePub

      RUFFNUTT, So a Democrat President takes out Osama, but it's the Right wings fault? LOL, those are pretty weak talking points. BTW, I'd like to say your words to the faces of the families of the ones who lost loved ones on 9-11, dufus!!

      May 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • evoc

      You're from the Middle East, are you?

      May 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Newo

      you're welcome to leave the sick society whenever you like.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrlgh

      I'm still celebrating his death...in fact I'm having a "shoot the left eye out of Osama" games happening right now....

      May 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ruester

      Well now lets see. Your ALI couldn't protect him. Our ALI found him. Murder. Nope Our Gods way of showing you who is the one true GOD. Mock us, burn our flags, kill our innocent people including children. But if you harm one of his chosen, you can never hide from the wrath that cometh. And HE did.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earth is Here

      I totally agree with this person. I know that Bin Laden was a bad individual. But, that gives us no right to be happy about his death. Who gave you the right to be happy about death? Yeah, no one did. Not even the government has that right. And I am no fan of any President. But, people have to realize that Bush and his team lift this country in a big mess. Don't cry like little girls! Trying to blame somebody else.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Ronco

      Correct.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Ruester: take a comparative religion class and learn something. You're retarded.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedom

      I was very happy when I heard that this coward (I won't write his name because he's not worth it) was finally killed. I do not condone killing at all unless it's justified. This coward MURDERED thousands of innocent human beings (children, parents, grand parents, etc. that had NOTHING to with anything) with his cowardice acts. I just can't believe it took so long to find and finally remove him from the planet. I just wish they stop showing his ugly mug. His picture is disgusting and makes me want to puke... oh crap I just puked just thinking about him.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gollum

      My precious my &$$.......... After 15 years of dating I'd rather marry an Arby's big Montana. Probably healthier. The happiest men I see are the ones who stack up some wealth and use the hot girls who use them for their money. Even trade and nobody ends up hurt. 🙂

      May 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. santos

    Yes, I agree with this article. I think not only in United States, but always in advanced countries.

    http://www.santosa-ms.com

    May 26, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. brian

    sick society?? wow what happened to being free in america!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Earth is Here

      Being free has its limits. You are not allowed to decide if you are worthy of even using that word.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Hey Blair, yeah it is a sick society when people celebrate the death, any death!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      Well said,Mike. Thank you.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Elephant In The Room

    A man would have to be a fool to get married.

    The legal and social strucutre of marriage favors women & mothers over men & fathers.

    There is too much downside for men in marriage.

    This is why women look forward to the whole commitment thing and men run from engagements.

    The man is simply a prop at a wedding.

    There are very few loving, principled , well developed "partnerships" between men and women. That`s why marriage is on the decline.

    And ladies, don`t do ask your man if he agrees because he won`t tell you the truth – he doesn`t want to hear you lobby to change his mind or prove me wrong.

    The facts and actions of men speak for themselves. We don`t embrace marriage. It is NOT in our best interests.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Cathryn

      Statistically marriage is actually more beneficial for men. Married men are happier and live longer than non-married men. Married women, however, are unhappier and live shorter lives than singe women. Just so you know.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Unruellie

      Unfortunately statistics indicate that in marriages, men are happier than their single male friends while women are less happy than other single females.....who would have thought!!

      May 26, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • EHarrioso

      Financially we get the shaft... There are plenty of health benefits to marriage though.

      http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5018/index1.html

      http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/10/us/studies-find-big-benefits-in-marriage.html

      May 26, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • DCHManX

      Where is the data showing these "statistics"?

      May 26, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      If marriage weren't so desirable and the benefits weren't so tangible, why would gays be trying so hard to get the right for federally recognized marriage?

      May 26, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • kate

      A good marriage is good for children who have the benefit of two adults contributing financially and emotionally to their kids..Two live cheaper than one..and when you get old..a wife or husband to help out is better than an $8 an hour worker who who may not speak English..Marriages are good for a stable society..Bad marriages contribute to mental health issues for all involved...so maybe getting married later is better...:)

      May 26, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Owl96

      Elephant, men are not props at weddings, they are one of the partners. When two people love each other, they "are" the wedding and the guests are the props. My wedding day was the best day of my life. The second best day was the rest of my married days. I lost my wife two years ago after 28 wonderful years, but am still in love with her. My biggest blessing was the time I spent a care giver for my wife. Who knows, maybe I will get married again some day. If I do, I hope it will be a great as the first time.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jmrt

      You have a chip on your shoulder, recently divorced or separated maybe? Bitter man maybe? Hmmm?

      May 26, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Marriage is far more beneficial for men than it is for women......great rant though!

      May 26, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Karla

      "Todd

      If marriage weren't so desirable and the benefits weren't so tangible, why would gays be trying so hard to get the right for federally recognized marriage? "

      I love what you said!! this is so true!

      May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • 800 Lb Kong In The Room

      I'm an educated and good looking young man who treats his gfs great. I'm not perfect by any means, but think I deserve better that what I've gotten from women. Frankly I'm not getting married, because I'm not willing to settle. Usually marriage minded women have a list of requirements that have nothing to do with love. I concede that looks are not always a requirement, but money usually ranks right up there. If the wallet is attached to a cute guy that doesn't beat the crap out of her then most women will set aside love. Women then have the audacity to get mad when men go for younger attractive women, as if women aren't petty either. I'm 32 and have been treated like a punching bag, pin cushion (literally), as well as treated like crap by most of my exs. I'm not putting a ring on some ex bar fly who decides she wants to settle down. I also will not marry someone who isn't a virgin because I'd like the few thousand dollars I'm spending on a white dress to mean something. Men are asked to work very hard and spend tons of money on the big day, so it's only fair that his requirements are met as well. The more I date the wrong girl the more my standards increase. My standards may be impossible to reach especially on this planet but I'm not getting married until they are met. Love apparently isn't all that's required for marriage.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      lol, you men sound bitter

      May 26, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Then how do you explain my husband being ready to get married about 3 years before I was?

      Fact is, married men live longer. Married men are healthier. Married men report themselves as happier. Married men, especially fathers, earn more money. None of these benefits are nearly as pronounced in women.

      Furthermore, upon divorce, a woman's net worth goes down about 23%, and a man's goes up 10%. If anything, marriage is a raw deal for WOMEN! Men are the ones who have it good!

      May 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      It's not a downside to marriage, it's a downside to divorce. If you expect to get divorced, there's no point to marriage. Divorce is punishment for bad decisions.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrlgh

      marriage is a lose lose situation. There is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to be gained by getting the "piece of paper". It complicates life. In fact, the leading cause of divorce is.....(you got it) MARRIAGE!!!! Anyone contemplating marriage, I'm giving you the best advice of your life, right here, for FREE...there's still time...DON'T DO it....if you do, one day you will think back to his post and kick yourself repeatedly!

      May 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      I can I put that on a t-shirt !

      May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • amy

      Actually, I'm replying to Owl 96.
      Your words were some of the most beautiful written on this site in a long time. I've been married almost 20 years, we've had our ups and downs, but we're still glad we're together and intend on staying together til the end. The wedding is nothing, it's the marriage and the working on the relationship that matters.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedom

      You hit the nail on the head! Men are fools! (I'm one by the way.) Why else would men get married? To prove to you how stupid we are, look at the guys that get married more than once! If being tortured once wasn't enough these guys do it again and again! Can you explain that? BTW, I have been married for over 16 years with two children. I tell my friends if I ever get divorced and decide to marry again TO SHOOT ME!

      May 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      I feel very sorry for guys like you and any woman you come into contact with. No... I feel sorry for your mother who gave birth to such an ignorant fool.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gollum

      @Sara: Don't feel sorry for me. Im perfectly fine with it. Women always say they can't find a nice guy, but don't know how to treat one when they have one. Girls let the jerks have their fun then the nice guy has to come play Dr.Phil and not get a 3some as a thank you. The bad boys get all the fun, while the nice guys get all the yawns and responsibility. Lol I feel sorry for any guy dumb enough to sign up for that arrangement for life.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matrix

    It's not that they live longer. It just SEEMS longer. Time flies when your having fun, and it crawls when you're bored or in agony... the latter is married life!

    May 26, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. J

    the haunted are coming back to haunt. white population will be replaced very soon. whites have less kids then hispanics, asian or indian, white family value is declining, rationality is above tradition, while ethnic population will rarely abandon tradition

    May 26, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Tradition

      Give it 100 years, and we'll see how strong tradition is for the ethnicity in this country. History will show that 'white' people had very strong ties to their tradition after their mass exodus out of Europe.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JMissal

      That might be true....but "tradition" (read culture) of the demographics that are replicating faster destroyed their respective nations. As these respective populations grow WITHOUT assimilating into American culture, they will then turn American into exactly what they came, and fled, from. So who's the winner then, eh?

      May 26, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Shotzbot

    Old age & Treachery will always over come youth and Skill!

    May 26, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Love this! LOL! : )

      May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. MN415

    Personally, I've done it twice and did not benefit from it not one bit. I prefer the single life. Marriage was stressed in the early ages as women were not working and the only form of support they had was from there fathers to then marrying off and having their husbands take care of them. Today women are more than capable of taking care of themselves and depending on no one but themselves. In addition, to those who get married too young (not everyone but a vast majority) rush into it and the second one little thing goes wrong (not even anything serious) they are ready to call it quits, hence the high rise of divorce. When you are at an older age I believe you have experienced much more and are more apt to realize that you are "ready" to "settle down". Anyone younger than 30 yrs old has no business getting married as by the age of 21-25 you have graduated college (regardless of what degree you obtain) and then the next 5 years you are clearing debt incurred by school and trying to settle in a career. Why ruin it with marriage?? lol.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ed

    Yes, White People are fast disappearing, thanks to the pill, abortion and women's liberation. Women have kept all their privileges that they have always had since Adam and Eve, but have taken over men's role as provider and taken away men's jobs as well. American women want jobs first and only condescend to have one child when they are almost too old to have a healthy child. No wonder we have so many sickly children. In addition to that, cheap foreign labor has come to our shores and put white men out of work. More jobs not taken over by imported foreigners have been exported to foreign countries that pay only a fraction of American salaries or nothing at all in the case of convict labor. Married men are so emasculated in many cases, that they are too afraid to do anything but smile and pretend to be happy.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      If everyone came from Adamn and Eve, then I guess that means everyone is related to each other regardless of skin color huh?

      May 26, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      When Adam was caught eating the fruit of knowledge by God, Adam pointed to Eve and said, "She made me do it!" Then for the rest of human history, men took the liberty of blaming women for all of the problems in the world.

      Had Adam been a man, stood up, took some personal responsibility and said to God, "Yes, I chose to eat the fruit," perhaps our history would have turned out differently. But oh no, early man chose to pass the buck and blame women for everything. Seems like things haven't changed much, at least to people like you.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • aminmd

      "White people are disappearing" for many reasons which are the result of actions of both men and women. This isn't just happening to them, they have decided to delay or forgo having children. Many, many men do not want to commit to a marriage and, believe it or not, women seldom choose to have a baby alone in large part because it is so difficult to raise a child alone and our society still does not condone it, especially among the educated. Many men, yes men, leave families when they no longer "meet their needs (because someone else does), children without a solid foundation. White people, particularly men, have exploited women, minorities and the poor for generations and are now bitter that they aren't as powerful as they'd like to be. White people are also intermarrying and it has happened since time immemorial. Lots of Americans describe themselves as "mutts" because they are not of a single ethnic heritage, the same happens with races. Also, Americans work many hours, enjoy their wealth and entertainment, pack their family's time with appointments and activities so they need to hire help to do what has usually been taken care of by the family: chores, house cleaning, yard work, car work. Who does those jobs? Lately it has been people from other countries. White people are disappearing because they're supposed to, no "race" can be pure forever.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • spser33

      Can you please describe a foreigner? You mean someone who wasn't born here, probably the same as your great great great grandparents who came over on a ship and worked their butts off to live in America so you could be here today. Basically, exactly what you're accusing of "foreigners" right now. Grow up, we're the land of the free, and we have an immigration problem because of that. Are the jobs the "foreigners" really the jobs you want anyway?
      I feel really bad for your wife and children who are getting brainwashed with your idyllic white world view.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike_NYC

      There is no adam and eve, we evolved.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • zavi13

      Time you built a time machine and went back to the good old days of 1950s segregation and second class status for women, you'll be happier there, don't forget your white hood!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    In a recent trip to India after 3 years, I realised just how young the Indian work force was. Only youth in customer facing jobs, in stark contrast to what we see here!

    May 26, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. 800 Lb Kong In The Room

    We should set our standards higher than "can't do any worse". It's like a car company advertising a vehicle wont blow up more than a Pinto.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Marriage, which is made by man, is a rule and system implemented which goes against human nature - sticking to one person. It is also a reason why the human brain was created to get 'bored' with your spouse and to find someone else after a long period of time.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. LEB

    I wish these studies would quit automatically defining unmarried people as single, especially unmarried parents who live in the same house. Unmarried does not mean you're not in a relationship. Unmarried does not mean uncommitted. Unmarried but committed does not have to include an intention to get married.

    Among senior couples especially, getting married actually hurts their pensions and benefits (not to mention would complicate inheritance issues), so a lot of senior couples deliberately choose not to marry. It's not just the divorce-shaken, commitment-phobic younger generations. Even some middle-aged couples prefer to be committed but unmarried, possibly because they've been married before and don't want to do it again, or they're content being legally single but functionally married without the piece of paper.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. thanos

    Married men are healthier and live longer because the live boring, tedious lives and take no risk or have any excitement. Married men report themselves as happier because they have the spectre of their wives looming over their shoulders when they answer these polls. Can you imagine the hell to pay if they said they weren't happy?

    May 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
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