Are you married? If so, you and your spouse are members of what may soon be the newest minority: married Americans. Only 51% of American adults are married, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Almost three in ten (28%) have never married. In just a few years, the percentage of married American adults may be less than 50%
The percentage of married Americans has been declining for decades. In 1960, for example, 72% of American adults were married. Only 15% had never married. Americans of all ages are less likely to marry now than before, but the downward trend is steep among young Americans—18 to 29 years of age. In 1960, 59% were married. Now, it’s only 20%.
There’s been an especially sharp drop in the number of married Americans in the last few years. From 2009 to 2010 alone, there was a 5% decline in new marriages. The poor economy could explain recent declines, but the long downward trend has taken place in good economic times and bad. Economics may exert influence, but it isn’t the whole story.
The marriage decline isn’t an “American problem.” That is, there isn’t something peculiar about American culture or values that turns Americans away from marriage. Rather, marriage is becoming less and less prevalent in just about all economically advanced societies.
Marriage is one of the world’s oldest institutions. But it may be on the way to becoming an outdated and anachronistic institution.
Are you alarmed by the increasing unpopularity of marriage?
Have you delayed or avoided marriage?
Do we really need marriage anymore?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.