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. gary

    the present and future is so fluid / shaky, who can count on marriage? There are few role models for marriage. My kid is 26 and is one of the few in her college or grad class whose parents are still together.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Or, gary, perhaps we are waking up to the simple plain facts that marriage is not compatible with the human condition. I know its a sacred crow and people are scared to question it. However, I think it's likely that humans are not compatible with life-long monogamous situations. Their brains just don't work that way. Situations change, relationships change, and we adapt in response. Marriage is rigid and limiting, which I think why more people choose not to do it. We have tried to work against our natural instincts for so long.

      December 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ clearmind:
    Those writing with such disrespect for marriage have not had what you had with your wife.
    At least you had those years. Many never had anything like that, and never will–or even could.
    I wish I could fix it for you.
    You may not have anger for those punks, I have it for you.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ PhillyRN:
    Thank you.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bugs Ears

    Those punks will NEVER see the face of God. But you and your lovely wife will Clearmind
    Good evening Joey

    December 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lila

    Lovely, a future of lonely people who are going to be needy and smother their offspring. One thing not to marry as a preference, it's another to be too frightened to get married and really desire it.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. clearmind

    @Joey, thank you brother. never will forgot your words `that` night. I know you are right about not having what I had, wish they could, like I said alot of angry hurting people out there. Thanks also for being my anger proxy, that is the hardest emotion to get past

    December 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ clearmind:
    I will never forget that you said to me that night, "you are my brother."
    I try to make my anger adaptive and use it to benefit myself in some way.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Bugs Ears:
    Good evening to you too.
    I must know you by another name.
    Soon I have to go to sleep: early clock tomorrow.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bugs Ears

    Hey Clearmind, remember 'Job' in the bible? HIs family was killed, house burnt down and had boils on his body... but refused to curse God. You remind me of him in the way that you haven't let yourself get angry at God. Good man you are! 🙂 (hug)

    December 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. clearmind

    @ Bugs Ears and Joey you (and Banasy) have honorary family status with my children and I. Going to sign off.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bugs Ears

    He he, Clearmind... you don't even know me and your giving me your first born! You crack me up. Nite 🙂

    December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. clearmind

    @Bugssssss Ears I feel more like Jonah, he was command to go and he said No and went his way, I am being told not to hold a I sit in the belly of whale...Saying you`re not the boss of me! ha ha ha

    December 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bugs Ears

    Awww, Clearmind... I don't blame you for your anger, I musta misunderstood your posts. In any case, The act those people commited are to be condemned but they themselves will are to be pitted for with out repentance of their crimes they surly will never see the face of God.

    December 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hamsta

    im a bachelor in new orleans.i dont know if its just where im from but the women here think that piece of paper is an extortion liscense.

    December 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    My opinion?
    For what it's worth, I value my husband and I value my vows we made on our wedding day; he is the light of my life along with the rest of my family.
    I cherish him.
    I honor him.
    I love him more than I thought it would be possible to love another person.
    Do we argue? Once in a while.
    Do we make up? Always.
    If I could go beck in time, would I marry him again?
    An unequivocal yes!
    I know people here hate it when I say things like this, but: I am blessed.
    He's my heart.

    December 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
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