According to the Pew Research Center, barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7). Based on an analysis of U.S. Census data, Pew said that in 1960, 72 percent of all adults over 18 were married; “today just 51 percent are,” and if this trend continues, “the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years.” Meanwhile, other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have increased in recent decades.
Moreover, the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that may or may not be related to the sour economy, according to the Pew Research.
The United States is by no means the only nation where marriage has been losing “market share” in the past fifty years. The same decline has been observed in most other advanced post-industrial societies, and these long-term declines appear unrelated to the business conditions because they persist through good and bad business cycles.
In the United States, the declines are most dramatic among young adults (although they have occurred in all age groups) Today, just 20% of adults ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59% in 1960. Over the course of the past 50 years, the median age at first marriage has risen by about six years for both men and women.