I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m feeling uncertain about my dating life, I like to look at recent marriage stats to see where I fit in the trends, graphs, and charts. It just helps put things in perspective.
For example, if I’m looking at my social media newsfeed, it seems like 90% of my peers are happily married and having babies, but census data tells me that just over 50% of American adults are single.
The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always supported by hard data. That’s why it’s good to take a step back and let the numbers determine what’s statistically normal and how you actually compare to other people.
Our experts dug into divorce records and marriage statistics to discover trends that are impacting the lives of married couples, unmarried couples, and marriage-minded singles today. Let’s dive in!
Marriage Stats by Age
It’s important to look at marriage trends by age group because relationship attitudes can change significantly with age. It’s not just that 20-somethings are at a different stage of life than 60-somethings — it’s that they bring different experiences and values to their relationships.
Young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors typically have distinct differences in terms of their marriage rate — not to mention their divorce rate. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Take a look at the numbers on marriage and age to see what the story is.
1. The Median Age for a First Marriage is the Highest Ever
The U.S. Census Bureau has tracked marriage rates since 1890, and its data shows the median age for a first marriage has been climbing higher and higher over the last 70 years. As of 2020, the census reported the median age for a first marriage was about 30 for men and 28 for women.
This is the highest median age ever recorded in the U.S., and it speaks to the fact that today’s young adults are waiting longer to get married than previous generations.
The feminist movement in the U.S. has changed a woman’s expectations for her career, marriage, and life. In 1950, the average age for a woman to get married for the first time was 20. Today, the average 20-something woman is more likely to seek a college degree or other educational attainment before turning her mind to marriage in her late 20s or early 30s.
2. Nearly Half of Teenage Marriages End Within 10 Years
This isn’t exactly a shocking statistic. Teenage love makes for great fiction, but real-life high-school sweethearts face an uphill climb if they tie the knot before reaching adulthood (or at least drinking age!).
Divorce lawyers in San Diego dug into the numbers and reported that 48% of couples who marry in their teenage years get divorced within 10 years, while only 25% of those who marry after the age of 25 end up divorced in the same time frame.
Another interesting tidbit in these marriage stats is that women who lost their virginity as a teenager were twice as likely as other women to report getting divorced in their 20s. Moral of the story: Accidental pregnancy may seem like a good reason to get married at the time, but it’s likely to lead to divorce court down the line.
3. Less Than 10% of 30-Year-Olds are Divorcees
Young adults are not marrying at high rates, and they’re not divorcing at high rates either. In 2018, approximately 9% of 30-year-old Americans had already gotten a marriage certificate and then gotten a divorce certificate.
Snarky headlines have declared that millennials are ruining divorce and lowering the overall divorce rate. Kids today and their responsible life decisions.
Meanwhile the trend of gray divorces is very much still alive. Recent divorce statistics show that 62-year-olds have the highest likelihood (41.6%) of being divorced, separated, or married multiple times. Only 42.3% of 62-year-olds were still in their first marriage.
Marriage Stats by Race
People like to say that America is a melting pot. But what do the numbers say about that? How common is it for white men to marry Black women in the U.S.? We’ve done some research into interracial marriage statistics to see if Americans of different ethnicities, creeds, beliefs, and ideologies are coming together in a meaningful way.
4. About 17% of New Marriages are Interracial Couples
The Pew Research Center has tracked American marriage rates and found a steady increase in interracial marriages since 1967 — the year interracial marriage was legalized in the U.S.
In 1967, just 3% of American marriages were between interracial couples. Today, 17% of newlyweds are entering an interracial marriage. That may not sound like a lot, but it amounts to about 11 million married men and women who have chosen a partner of a different race or ethnicity.
It’s kind of crazy to think how far we’ve come as a society. Today’s young interracial couples probably have parents or grandparents who grew up in a time when it was illegal for Black men to marry white women.
Interracial dating and interracial marriage may not be the norm in American society (yet), but it’s encouraging to see couples chipping away at stereotypes, racism, and ethnic divisions year after year.
5. Asian & Hispanic People are Most Likely to Intermarry
Intermarriage is generally on the uptick in the United States, but it isn’t uniformly popular or commonplace among all racial groups. The Pew Research Center broke down the interracial marriage numbers by race and found the intermarriage rates were highest among Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.
A solid 29% of Asian American adults and 27% of Hispanic American adults said they married someone of a different racial background than their own. Within these racial groups, American-born individuals were even more likely to be in an interracial marriage. In fact, nearly half of U.S.-born Asian newlyweds (47%) said they had chosen a spouse who is not of Asian descent.
The Pew Research Center’s data shows that today’s Black singles are slowly but surely becoming more open to entering interracial relationships and marriages. In 1980, just 5% of Black people reported being in an intermarriage compared with 18% of Black people today. Black men are twice as likely as Black women (24% vs. 12%) to say they have married someone of a different race.
White men and women were the least likely to report an interracial marriage at 11%.
Marriage Stats by State
Each state has different marriage laws, divorce procedures, economic factors, and societal norms that can impact its crude marriage rate or crude divorce rate (i.e. the number of marriages and divorces per 1,000 people). So here’s some insights into how the states stack up in the love department.
6. Nevada & Hawaii Have the Highest Marriage Rates
According to CDC data, the marriage rate has been exceptionally high in Nevada and Hawaii for over three decades now. Nevada sees a crude marriage rate of 26.7 marriages per 1,000 population, and the Hawaii marriage rate is 15.3.
These two states are incredibly popular for destination weddings, so their high marriage rates likely stem from the fact that not everyone getting married in Nevada and Hawaii are residents of those states.
The typical marriage rate in the U.S. seems to hover around six marriages for every 1,000 people. Louisiana currently has the lowest marriage rate of all the states at 4.1.
It’s important to note that the rate that people are getting married does not speak to marital stability or longevity. The divorce rate in each state gives you a better idea about the state of marriage across the country. So that’s what we study in this next section of marriage statistics by state.
7. Nevada Also Has the Highest Divorce Rate
Hate to break this to you, but not all Las Vegas weddings stand the test of time. Nevada actually has the highest divorce rate of any state at 4.5 divorces per 1,000 people. That’s the crude divorce rate when compared with the population. The stat in proportion to marriages is still not great. About 14% of all marriages in Nevada end in divorce court.
On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois has the lowest divorce rate at 1.5 divorces per 1,000 people. Less than 10% of Illinois marriages end in divorce. Go Illinois!
8. Divorce is Common in Indiana & Oregon
A while back, DatingNews.com ranked the U.S. towns with the highest divorce rates to see if any patterns popped up. Surprisingly, Indiana and Oregon seem to be hotspots for divorced people. Four Indiana towns and two Oregon towns cracked the top-20 list.
With 20% of its residents identifying as divorcees, Brookings, Oregon, had the highest divorce rate of any town in the U.S.
Our list of divorce-ridden towns featured a range of rural towns, beachside communities, and manufacturing hubs, but we did see a common thread tying almost all these places together — economic downturn. When times are hard, it takes a toll on married couples, and sometimes individuals decide they’re better off starting fresh and looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Marriage Stats by Generation
Times have changed a lot since the Silent Generation was getting married in the 1940s and 1950s. Back then, married women weren’t even guaranteed the right to own property, and it was taken for granted that men would be the sole breadwinners in the household.
Now, same-sex marriage is legal, women make up a majority of the U.S. labor force, and online dating has given singles more control over their romantic future. Every generation has adapted to this changing landscape in different ways, and current marriage patterns have shifted to reflect new attitudes and opportunities.
9. Millennials are Waiting Longer to Get Married
Gallup Daily tracking data estimated that only 27% of millennials are married and 59% are single. This is a sharp contrast from the 36% of Gen Xers, 48% of baby boomers, and 65% of Silent Generation members who married by the time they had reached the age millennials are now.
As you can see from the numbers, each generation seems to have waited longer and longer to tie the knot. Gen Z is too young to show clear trends yet, but we’d be willing to bet they’ll follow in the patient footsteps of millennials.
Many experts point toward women’s educational attainment and career aspirations as the predominant reason why 21st-century adults aren’t in as big a hurry for marriage and family formation.
The reason millennials are not getting married at the same rate as their generational predecessors is a complex issue. But, one thing is for sure, it’s not because millennials are opposed to marriage. The Gallup Daily survey reported that 86% of single millennials said they plan to get married one day. They’re just willing to…wait for it.
10. Half of Gen Z & Millennials Agree Intermarriage is Good for Society
A recent poll asked Americans “Is interracial marriage a good thing or a bad thing for society?” And the answers reflected the generational shift in the U.S. regarding race and inclusion. As would be expected, the young generations expressed more tolerant and forward-thinking views than the older generations.
The majority of Gen Zers and millennials (53%) agreed that interracial marriage is good for society, and another 42% said it doesn’t make any difference. Meanwhile only 41% of Gen Xers, 30% of baby boomers, and 20% of adults in the Silent Generation responded that interracial marriage is good for society.
Another poll found that over 85% of Americans aged 18 to 29 said they would be supportive of a family member dating a person of another race.
11. Baby Boomers are Divorcing at the Highest Rate
Hollywood tends to glamorize the idea of a married couple growing old together and sitting side by side in rocking chairs. However, in real life, a growing number of older married couples are deciding to spend their golden years on their own.
The divorce rate among senior citizens has been climbing in the U.S. as millions of baby boomers enter retirement and leave their marriages.
In 1990, only 5 out of 1,000 married adults over 50 had gotten divorced. In 2015, that divorce rate increased to 10 out of 1,000. The stats get even more pronounced in more advanced age groups. Over the last 30 years, the gray divorce rate has roughly tripled among adults 65 and older.
When presenting this data, the researchers noted that seniors in their second marriage were more likely to get divorced than seniors in their first marriage. That spells trouble for baby boomers who experienced high marital instability in their younger years and are more likely to be in a second marriage now.
The Silent Generation was serious about staying with another person from marriage certificate to death certificate. But that’s not how baby boomers have experienced marriage. Divorce has become more normalized in society, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some single people are happier because they have the freedom to get divorced without as much social stigma or financial instability.
12. Younger Generations are Finding Love Online
Online dating has been around since 1995, but it didn’t gain mainstream popularity until more recently when tech natives entered the dating scene. From 2013 to 2016, online dating usage tripled among young adults, and it has kept climbing.
The most recent online dating studies show a generational difference in how singles use technology to meet people. As in, young singles typically use technology to meet people, and older singles typically don’t.
Today, 48% of young adults under 40 say they have used a dating site or app and 17% say they have gotten in a relationship as a result. Meanwhile, only 13% of American adults in the 65+ category say they have used online dating and 5% gotten into a relationship.
In 2019, The Knot reported more online dating marriages than ever before. According to its annual survey, 22% of newlyweds said they found their partner on a dating site or app. This was lauded as the most popular way to meet a spouse, beating out meeting through friends (19%), in school (17%) and at work (13%).
What is the Current Divorce Rate?
Despite popular belief, the divorce rate in the U.S. is actually well below 50%. It sounds clever to say that you have a 50-50 shot of staying married, but the odds are better than that in reality. Something like 39% of U.S. marriages end in divorce.
Many experts attribute the steady decline in the divorce rate to the fact that young people have proven to be more likely to wait to get married and more likely to stay in those marriages.
What is the Number One Reason for Divorce?
This is a tough one to pin down because couples can have multiple reasons for getting divorced — as in, he’s lazy, a liar, AND cheating on me. However, researchers have surveyed divorced couples to gain insight into the main factor (or final straw) driving them to exchange their marriage certificate for a divorce certificate.
The most common final straws reported in the survey were infidelity (59%) and too much arguing (57%), and domestic violence (23%). Financial problems also played a factor in about one in three of the divorces.
Most notably, 73% of respondents agreed that a lack of commitment was a major contributing factor in why their marriage didn’t work.
Is It Healthier to Be Married Than Single?
Actually, yes, being married may have positive repercussions on one’s health down the line. Married people are less likely to suffer a heart attack and more likely to survive cancer. Whether it’s giving people a reason to live or reinforcing healthy habits, a person’s marital status seems to make a major difference in his or her physical and mental health.
According to national statistics, married people have lower rates of depression than single people living alone. Married people are also the least likely to have mental disorders and are less likely to commit suicide.
Couples getting married vow to stay together in sickness and in health, but it seems that marriage is strongly correlated with good health, for better or worse.
Spouses can hold each other accountable for eating right and exercising. They can spot warning signs of poor health and provide motivation to go to the doctor. And, in some cases, having a spouse can be life-saving if a person collapses at home and needs immediate medical attention.
One study looked at the cardiovascular health of over 3,600 men and found, even after accounting for age, weight, cholesterol, and other health risk factors, that married men had a 46% lower death rate than unmarried men.
Married couples have the benefit of tackling health issues as a team, and their ability to look out for one another can literally be the difference between life and death.
Which State Has the Highest/Lowest Birth Rate?
Of all 50 states, Utah has the highest birth rate of 14.9 per 1,000 population. Utah also has the largest average household size and the lowest median age (30.7) in the U.S. The state’s large Mormon population is the main driver behind these marriage and family statistics.
Vermont has the lowest birth rate in the U.S. with 8.7 births recorded per 1,000 population.
Which Month Has the Highest Divorce Rate?
Divorce lawyers like to refer to January as “divorce month” because they see an uptick in clients after the holidays are over — and perhaps some familial arguments have reached a breaking point. It’s the dark side of New Year’s resolutions. But is it true? Maybe not. A 2016 study analyzed divorce filings in Washington State from 2001 to 2015 and found they peaked not in January but in March and August.
It could be that couples decide to divorce in January but don’t finish the paperwork until March.
What is a Civil Union?
A civil union is a legal designation given to couples who are together but not married. It was long used by same-sex couples who legally could not get married. A civil union gave two people similar legal protections and rights as a married couple — but only at the state level. Couples in civil unions do not receive the same federal benefits (i.e. tax breaks) as a traditional married couple.
Are There Any Divorce Statistics by Race?
Some academic research has looked into the divorce rates among racial minorities in the U.S. The numbers are interesting because it seems certain ethnic groups have more marital instability than others.
According to a 2014 survey, Native Americans see the highest divorce rate and Asian Americans see the lowest divorce rate. About 45% of Native Americans and 18% of Asian Americans reported being divorced.
The divorce rate was relatively high in the Black community. About 42% of Black men and women identified as divorcees.
Among Latino Americans, women were slightly more likely than men (30% vs. 38%) to report being divorced or married more than once.
Disclaimer: Please don’t take these numbers too seriously. These statistics do not control by age, education, class, or income, so it’s hard to gauge what’s going on here. We’re pretty sure that skin tone isn’t the main factor driving these couples to divorce or to stay together, and more detailed data would undoubtedly tell a more nuanced story than this quick snapshot of the U.S. divorce rate segmented by race.
Is Child Marriage Legal in the U.S.?
Yes, child marriage (aka getting married before turning 18 years old) is legal in 46 states — as long as the minor has a parental or judicial waiver. Only Delaware, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania have set the minimum age to get a marriage certificate at 18 and eliminated all exceptions.
When ranking marriage stats by age, we did not include statistics on the prevalence of child marriage, but it’s important to recognize that this marriage trend is still very much a reality in the U.S. and around the world. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that currently over 650 million women were married before the age of 18. In 2016, over 5.6 million girls became child brides.
How Many Marriages are Sexless?
Actually not that many. Studies have found something like 15% to 20% of couples are in sexless marriages, meaning they do not engage in any sexual activities with their partner. As you may expect, the likelihood of being in a sexless marriage increases with age. Sexless marriages do not always signify marital instability or unhappiness.
Some couples are satisfied with their sexless marriage and find more fulfillment from their emotional or intellectual connection. Other couples are not satisfied with this arrangement, and that’s where sex therapy can help by opening an honest dialogue about emotional and physical needs.
“It’s important to keep an open dialogue with your spouse, to continue to connect on other levels and to make sure both of you are truly content with the status of the relationship,” said a sexologist named Dr. Judith Steinhart in a health article. “It’s not a lack of sex that’s the issue — it’s a discordant level of desire.”
Is the Seven-Year Itch a Real Thing?
The seven-year itch refers to the idea that people in relationships or marriages get restless after seven years together and decide to either work things out or split. It’s the same idea as the honeymoon phase. A couple can only ride their endorphins and chemistry for so long before getting real.
If you think seven years sounds arbitrary, that’s because it is. The term is based off a movie title, not scientific data. However, some studies have shown that divorces spike after a couple has been married for five to 10 years.
In 2012, one study declared the seven-year itch is actually more like a 12-year itch in the U.S. The median duration of a first marriage that ended in divorce that year was 12 years, and the median duration of a second marriage was 10 years.
The seven-year itch may be more characteristic of folks with multiple marriages under their belt. After all, a first marriage is less likely to end in divorce than a second or third marriage, and people who have been in multiple marriages have already proven themselves less willing to stick around to try to make things work.
What Percentage of Marriages Stay Together?
As this article has expressed in great detail, the success of a marriage varies greatly from place to place, generation to generation, and person to person. So it’s hard to make a blanket statement about marriages that is true for everyone. But, you asked for it, so here it goes: the current estimate is that between 40% to 50% of today’s marriages will end in divorce.
That means that as many as 60% of married couples will stay together for the long haul.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the marriages that stay together are happy marriages or that the couples who divorce are worse off. A person’s marital status is just a box they tick on a form. It doesn’t mean all their life problems are solved, and they walk into a sunset never to change or want something different again.
Some marriages stay together, and some marriages don’t, and each of those stories can be a success story depending on how you look at it.
Marriage Patterns Show a Bright Future Ahead
Some people can put a lot of pressure on themselves to live up to the fairytale of a perfectly happy marriage and classic American family. But that’s not realistic. Marital instability, infidelity, divorce, and other relationship problems are common in American society, and people’s love lives don’t always follow a straight line. Some couples find happiness in a second marriage or in cohabitation without a marriage license.
Nontraditional relationships and blended families are becoming increasingly common in American society. However, people are more likely to post their child’s birth certificate than their divorce certificate on social media, so newsfeeds end up promoting a warped view of the average marital status and family formation.
Our ace researchers have collected and listed many vital statistics to create a more accurate and realistic picture of the state of marriage in the United States and around the world.
If you come away with anything from this article, I hope it’s the fact that every marriage is different, divorce rates aren’t inevitable, and your life story can be anything you make of it. Whether you’re married, separated, or dating, you’re not the only one facing challenges or asking questions. To quote the incomparable Zac Efron: We’re all in this together.