As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens

Source: Pew Research Center

Half of U.S. adults today are married, a share that has remained relatively stable in recent years but is down 9 percentage points over the past quarter century and dramatically different from the peak of 72% in 1960, according to newly released census data.

The decline in the share of married adults can be explained in part by the fact that Americans are marrying later in life these days. In 2016, the median age for a first marriage was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men – roughly seven years more than the median ages in 1960 (20.3 for women and 22.8 for men).

But delayed marriage may not explain all of the drop-off. The share of Americans who have never married has been rising steadily in recent decades. At the same time, more adults are living with a partner instead of marrying and raising children outside of marriage.

Marriage rates are also more closely linked to socio-economic status than ever before, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data that shows that the education gap in marital status has continued to widen.

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