Thursday, September 14, 2017

Age at First Marriage Still Rising in the US

Median age at first marriage is still rising in the US, up more than 2 years in the past decade, to 29.9 for men and 27.9 for women. This is happening for all groups, including Mormons and Evangelical Christians.

Which makes me think again that sometimes giant socio-economic/cultural forces override all our choices and beliefs and sense of agency. I mean, people think they get married when they fall in love with the right person, and it feels very personal and idiosyncratic. But those numbers keep rising.


G. Verloren said...

Economic pressures are likely a big contributor. Changing societal expectations about the acceptability of delaying marriage or the urgency of marrying sooner are likely another.

Regarding Mormons and Evangelicals, they might be skewed to marry sooner for doctrinal reasons about procreation and social order, but at the same time they might also be skewed back again by the dwindling numbers of potential partners that meet their particular moral or religious standards, with those communities being more picky about who is an acceptable spouse, and therefore it takes longer to find an appropriate match.

pootrsox said...

If my daughter (turned 38 the week before her first and only wedding) is any indication, the trend at least among educated and decently-employed young adults (the only class with which she and I are familiar) has been mid-30's.

She lived with one man for almost 4 years before they decided they simply were not meant for each other. She lived with her now-spouse for 18 months and they bought a house together before they got engaged.

As she said, "I waited because I wanted to be sure; I didn't want to make a mistake." (I have been married twice, divorced twice.)

Sex no longer requires marriage sanctification. Having kids may or may not propel a marriage. Dependency for support is not an element in the decision-making.

Her husband is 4 years younger; his older sister is my daughter's age and married less than a year before my daughter did. Their cousins married in their mid-30's as well. And many of their friends in their mid-30's are only just now marrying. One couple moved to Costa Rica together (her native land) a year ago and are only just marrying this winter.

Very different pattern. Every one of the people I'm describing were financially secure (in terms of well-paid permanent employment) by their mid-20's. They've all lived together before marriage. Most had done so with someone else before they found each other.

None of them is particularly religious-- most were married by JP's.

I think the rising age can at least in part be attributed to a lack of reasons to *get* married (sex, security, etc no longer require marriage).

leif said...

completely agree, pootrsox. that was our experience as well. we simply had no reason to marry, except, sure let's just make it official. that was 18-some years ago in our 30s. if anything, it was imagined or real parental pressure.