Delaying Marriage

While no one seems to have a good explanation, American adults are increasingly delaying marriage. Based on the latest population survey by the U.S. Census bureau, the median age at first marriage in the U.S. is almost 30. (29.8 for men and 27.8 for women). For reference, in 2003, the median first marriage age was 27.1 and 25.3 for men and women, respectively.

Today, just 29% of adults age 18-34 are married, compared to 59% in 1978. Cohabitation with an unmarried partner among persons age 18 to 24, is now more prevalent than living with a spouse (9% compared to 7%). Meanwhile, a whopping 54% of young adults age 18-24 still live in their parents’ home.

Overall, the number of single-person households has significantly increased. In 2018, single-person households represented 28% of the total, compared with 13% in 1960.

You can see from the graphic on the next page that there has been a rather sharp trend toward marrying later in life, starting around 1970, and there is no obvious sign that the trend will level off or reverse itself. In fact, if current trends hold the median age could be approaching 35 in another 20 years.