The Pew Research Center released an analysis of new 2010 U.S. Census data on marriage, which shows a record low in the percentage of married U.S. adults. Only 51% of adults ages 18 and over reported being married, down from 72% in 1960. Over the same 50-year period, divorce or separation has increased from 5% to 14%, and the percent never married increased from 15% to 28%.
The most telling trend in terms of marital trends can be found in the young adult population. Twenty percent of those ages 18 to 29 reported being married, just over one third of the percent married 50 years ago (59%). In addition, the median age of first marriage has increased by roughly six percent over this time period, up to roughly 28 years old.
Though Pew does not definitively explain the declining trends in marriage, they cite the rising share of young adults enrolled in college and “fallout from the Great Recession” as potential contributing factors. Pew also cites a U.N. report on marriage in developed nations between the 1990s and 2000s, quoting: “this was ‘due in part to an increasing acceptance of consensual [cohabiting] unions as a replacement for marital unions,’” which may also contribute to declining percentages in the United States.