U.S. Marriage Rate Plunges to Lowest Level on Record
By Janet Adamy
WASHINGTON -- The share of Americans getting married has fallen
to its lowest level on record, according to government figures
released Wednesday that reflect how economic insecurity and
changing norms are eroding the institution.
The U.S. marriage rate fell 6% in 2018, with 6.5 new unions
formed for every 1,000 people, according to a report by the
National Center for Health Statistics. That was the lowest rate
since the federal government began keeping data in 1867, said Sally
Curtin, a statistician at the center and lead author of the
"Millennials are in peak marriage years, their 20s and 30s, and
it's still dropping," Ms. Curtin said. "This is historic."
The new report shows how marriage rates plunged near the start
of the Great Depression in the 1930s, then rebounded sharply after
World War II, hitting a high of 16.4 marriages per 1,000 people in
1946. The marriage rate began a near-steady decline in 1982 that
lasted until 2009, then remained near flat before inching upward in
2014. Ms. Curtin said there was no clear reason for the sharp
marriage decline in 2018.
Many Americans are opting to form households without tying the
knot, and strained finances have been a top reason. In recent
years, much of the marriage decline has come for middle earners and
those with only a high-school education. Declining religious
adherence and growing acceptance of unmarried cohabitation have
also played a role.
Just over half of American adults were living with a spouse in
2019, down from about seven in 10 in 1970, census figures show.
About 7% lived with a partner last year, up from less than 1% in
The fallout from Covid-19 is likely to further discourage
marriage in the near term since financial insecurity, coupled with
travel and social-gathering restrictions, are matrimonial
deterrents. "A lot of it is the economy, and the extent to which
Covid has a lasting effect on the economy, it might affect family
formation," Ms. Curtin said.
The outbreak could also create pent-up matrimonial demand that
results in a burst of marriages once America rebounds socially and
Marriage is correlated with positive health outcomes, longevity
and economic security. A recent government report showed that
age-adjusted death rates are lowest for those who were married when
--Paul Overberg contributed to this article.
Write to Janet Adamy at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 29, 2020 00:15 ET (04:15 GMT)
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