Young Couples Prefer Cohabitation to Marriage

By
January 19, 2014

It has been already known for some time that fewer and fewer individuals are willing to get married, and a new research just confirmed how much the marriage rate has dropped down in the last century.

According to a new Family Profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green University, the marriage rate in the United States is continuing its decades-long downward slide, with fewer females than ever joining the matrimonial unit. The study found that women are also waiting much longer to walk down the aisle for the first time.

The report, titled, "Marriage: More than a Century of Change," states that in 1920, the marriage rate was 92.3. Now, it has plummeted to 31.01, the lowest it has been in over a century. That equals roughly 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. In other words, for every thousand unmarried women in the United States, 31 of those previously single women got married in the past year.

Since 1970, the marriage rate has dropped by nearly 60 per cent. Dr. Susan Brown, co-director of the NCFMR, says that marriage these days is no longer compulsory; it is just an option for many. Increasingly, many partners opt for cohabitation and many others prefer to stay single. The age at first marriage for women and men is at a historic highpoint and has been steadily growing, says Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the Center. An average age of an American woman at first marriage is now about 27 years, the highest in more than a century, according to the NCFMR statement. As to US men, they wait until about 29 years of age to get married.

In order to analyze and calculate the marriage rate, the investigators took into consideration the percentage of women older than fifteen years of age, who tie the knot every year, so the plummeting numbers could also be explained, in part, by US females postponing longer than they have in the past. Among all American women over fifteen years of age, less than 50 per cent (47%) are married today, the lowest number since the turn of the 20th century, and down from a peak of 65 per cent in 1950, the report says. On the other hand, the report found that the proportion of women who are divorced or separated is increasing, at 15 per cent today, when compared with less than one percent in 1920. The divorce rate remains high in the United States and people today are less likely to tie the knot for the second time than they were in the past, Dr. Brown said.

The investigation also found that marriage rates have declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the greatest decline is among African Americans. Just twenty-six per cent of African American women are married today, compared with 56 per cent of Asian females, the ethnic group which includes the highest proportion of married women. And while the percentage of women with high education who walk down the isle has changed very little in the last 50 years, it has dropped most significantly among the ladies who do not hold a high school diploma. Sixty per cent of women with a Bachelor's degree are married, while the number is less than 30 per cent for those who never graduated high school.

Not so long ago The Pew Research Center released the data according to which fifty-one per cent of Americans were married in 2011, when compared with 72 per cent in 1960. However, number of couples who prefer to cohabit are climbing up, with less than half a million couples cohabiting in 1960, compared to 7.5 million in 2010, found private research company Demographic Intelligence. For comparison, the analysis shows that women in France tie the knot on average around 30 years of age, and men around 32. Women in Brazil get married, on average, at age twenty-six, while men at age 28. In Great Britain the average age is 28 for females and 31 for males.

Scientists based their report on data from the National Vital Statistics "100 Years of Marriage and Divorce Statistics United States 1867-1967," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau. The project was funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

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