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.

Post by:
Filed under: U.S.
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. sean

    You people need to get a f..u..c..k..i..n..g life. Nobody cares about your opinions on a CNN article.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      sean = "You people"


      December 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin opinion

      Your opinion regarding the ignorance of writing opinions, is the best opinion ever written in the entire history of written opinions... well, in my opinion.

      Hypocrisy, it's not just for political and religious leaders anymore.

      December 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      us1776 no one cares what you think

      December 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      Thanks for your hypocritical comment. Obviously you cared enough to respond. Well done.

      December 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      No one cares about your opinion either justin

      December 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ctsingle

      then the irs tax code should be changed . singles should pay the same for the same income as married. Drop the rate for singles

      December 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • rachel

      Well...If he doesn't respond, I guess he doesn't care what you think about his "hipocrisy"

      December 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • socrates

      Cnn comments. An exercise in futility

      December 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sas

    No man has asked their woman to be "Superwoman". This is a self imposed expectation that some women place on themselves. The problem is that some women have such little respect for TRUE feminine power that they have been tricked into believing that they aren't equal unless they can achieve what men have achieved. But since the world has been run by men for so long, all the false values men have idolized and worshiped are now coveted by some women as well. Meanwhile true Feminine power has been dismissed as weakness and subserviant to male energy.

    I say we need less "business" types out there and more nurturing and caring humans that put others first. This world has become more and more narcisistic and ego centered. Feminism has turned a dark corner and has abandoned true feminin strength in exchange for a piece of the false power available in a "man's" world.

    Yet somehow, intuitively some woman are starting to realize that they are not happier when they pursue these foolish ambitions of the ego. They have learned to become just as selfish as men and are starting to realize that they are even less happy than they were before.

    If more men were in touch with Feminine energy, there never would have been a need for Feminism to begin with. The solution is not to covet male energy and think you have gained equality by participating in the same foolish pursuits as a lost man. The solution is for MEN to be more in touch with their feminine side. I know it sounds corny but it's true.

    Yet somehow, in this crazy world, some woman have come to believe that to become selfish, is to become equal.

    This article is a typical example of the inner conflict that any woman feels when she has been taught that she needs to put herself first, yet intuitively knows that it is NOT the road to happiness. So most women end up with this "superwoman" complex.

    My wife and I have a wonderful relationship and neither of us has fallen for this distorted and sad view of the world. We never fight over money and we put one another ahead of our personal ambitions. If you choose to be ambitious, then DON'T get married. That is not what having a family is about. I waited until I was 36 to get married so I could pursue my selfish desires. But now that I am a family man, I have learned a whole new perspective on caring that was never taught in the "business" world. And I am truly happier. I only wished I found it sooner.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • COF

      Men don't demand a superwoman. Feminism demands a superwoman. Our idea of a perfect woman is one who can raise the kids properly, to value family and respect rather than money and status. We want a woman who can keep the house clean and cook a good healthy meal, not to be at the office until 8pm and care more about their career than family. Various studies have shown that a child differs when raised by a single male parent and a single female parent. The conclusion: Best traits are present when both do their part. It's a biological factor. Money isn't power, people's roles are the real power. Otherwise the children will become more and more detached from family, education, and reality; being consumed by commercialism.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. us1776

    Uh, hello ! Many people just cannot afford a wedding right now.


    December 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryce

      But I really really doubt that is the reason behind this, most people just don't have the guts to commit to anything and have no moral code to direct them otherwise.

      December 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • sybaris

      ....or quite possibly less men are willing to risk their income for a stay at home wife who decides to call it quits after 10 years and takes half of of everything.

      December 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bryce

    I love my wife

    December 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhillyRN

      And I love my husband! I feel the need to post that so all the negative nellies don't kill themselves. Most marriages are good ones. Most families are good ones. It is worth it to love so much that you have to give more than you knew you had.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. clearmind

    Always try not to get broken up on here, try to keep it together but reading these comments just tear me up.... The love between two should NEVER be discussed in such a degrading mannner. My wife was brutally and without good reason taken from me and our children, our family. No I do not look back with rose colored glasses, I dont have to, true love works through the ugliness and stays with the bad things till it is worked out. This only be done with COMMITMENT & RESPECT. Sometimes the love is overshadowed by the anger, but it is there. I love my wife and she loved me. No regrets except that there wasnt more time.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhillyRN

      Bless you Clearmind, and may you have peace and joy these holidays.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. David

    I wouldn't recommend any man get married. With a few exceptions Fathers have no rights and will be totally destroyed if the wife decides its time to move on. I'm from Washington State and they encourage misconduct on the part of the wife and will generously reward them (with child support and alimony) and allow them to take kids away from good fathers regardless of their parenting skills. I have seen so many good fathers absolutely destroyed. The woman can pretty much get away with anything. Men are terrified, and rightfully so.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel Johnston

      Amen David. There is plenty of proof of what drives an industry that profits from destroying families. And without question, men above simple means are the target for extracting that money to the Lieyers and Judges.

      Men have very little incentive to marry these days, and in fact have every reason to not allow their lives to be destroyed by a system that punishes them and uses biased court rulings to destroy them. has some great resources that show what is going on in Washington State. David – nice call!

      December 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhillyRN

      Why not lobby for changes to Wash State law? It's easier to do than at the federal level. It sounds like Wash is one of the states that experimented just a little too far. So lobby to bring it more in line with the median on state family law.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. achepotle

    That's good...religions are stupid..people should just live together.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sybaris

      Serial monogamy is more consistent with the natural tendencies of male-female relationships.

      December 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bugs Ears

    @ clearmind 🙂 This life will not be forever my friend and you WILL be with her again. (hug) big guy 🙂

    December 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    I am terrified of marrying. Why would I want to get married, then in 10 years have the woman decide she wants out over some little thing, and I lose everything. My house, possibly kids, assets, money. Its pointless. I'd rather just be happily dating instead of happily married, much less risk.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NoDoubt

    I'm a 35 year old female and single. The reason I am single is because it isn't easy meeting new people who are self-sufficient and who are really interested in having a relationship. It takes work and compromise, which very few people of my generation want to do. My generation is the first to be WORSE off financially than our parents. Everyone is pretty much in survival-mode now. We are selfish because we have to be. If I don't take care of myself, there isn't anyone else that will.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MrMailman

    We should play a practical joke on the rest of the world, we should liberate women at every corner of the world. That will tickle them fancy.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MrMailman

    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."


    December 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CaptainObvious

    The disintegration of millions of families has taken place in part because popular media and culture have glorified the pursuit of self: of the wholly autonomous individual unconnected with social or moral obligations, free to pursue whatever ends he or she chooses so long as it does not cause direct physical harm to other aggrandizing selves.

    In the mad pursuit of self that prevails in the world today, many believe that they may make up their own rules as they go along, putting on their personal concept of morality or “lifestyle” like a change of clothing. Such is doomed to failure as is any society that endorses and encourages this type of moral departure.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. clearmind

    @ Bugs Ears thank you dear friend, I know you are right. and I think I know who you are, hope it is you, missed you j z.......

    December 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. clearmind

    Alot of hurt and anger in these comments I am terribly sorry for that terribly sorry

    December 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8