Marriage Rate Lowest In A Century

The marriage rate, between heterosexual couples respectfully, is at its lowest rate in a century.

The marriage rate has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the greatest decline is among African Americans.

A new Family Profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University, states fewer women are electing to get married. And women who do decide to marry are delaying when to take the stroll down the aisle.

Researchers used data from the National Vital Statistics “100 Years of Marriage and Divorce Statistics United States 1867-1967,” the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and the US Census Bureau to assess their results.

According to “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” the US marriage rate is 31.1. That is the lowest it’s been in over a century. It equals roughly 31 marriages per 1,000 married women. Compare that to 1920, when the marriage rate was a staggering 92.3.

Since 1970, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.

Dr. Susan Brown, co-director of the NCFMR says, “Marriage is no longer compulsory. It’s just one of an array of options. Increasingly, many couples choose to cohabit and still others prefer to remain single.” She was quoted in Science Daily.

Much of this has been due to several feminist, equality movements pushing womankind forward out of domestic roles. Now instead of being socially subdued into the roles of wife and mother, women have more choices. They can choose to be a wife and mother, or they can opt to have a career, or both.

There is also less of a social stigma to remain single, or to have children out of wedlock.

Americans are progressively getting married later in life. The average age of first marriage in the United States is 27 for women and 29 for men. This is up from 23 for women and 26 for men in 1990, and 20 and 22 in 1960, reports The Atlantic.

But there are benefits of marrying later. The relationships longevity of those who do marry later statistically lasts longer than those who marry younger. And financially, college-educated women benefit the most from marrying later. Women who marry later make more money per year than women who marry young.

This is according to “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” a new report from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project.

The average annual personal income for college-educated women in their mid-30s who married after age 30 is $50,415, compared with $32,263 for college-educated women of the same age who married before age 20 – a 56 percent difference. Female high-school graduates who attended some college also enjoy higher wages if they wait to marry, though the gap is not as wide. Those who marry after 30 earn $22,286 a year by their mid-30s, while those who marry before 20 earn $18,234 – a 22 percent difference.

There has also been a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who are separated or divorced. In 1920, less than 1 percent of women held that distinction. Today, it is 15 percent. Divorce rates remain high in the US, and individuals are less likely to remarry than they were in the past.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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