- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

For better or for worse, nine out of 10 people worldwide still choose to marry at least once in their lives, according to a U.N. survey.

The astonishingly high percentage of people who utter wedding vows at some time demonstrates that marriage is very much alive despite widespread divorce in developed countries and the prevalence of what used to be called "living in sin" in many regions of the world, U.N. officials said.

"Despite marriage being postponed, the overwhelming majority of people still do get married," said Vasantha Kandiah, chief of the fertility and family-planning section of the U.N.'s population division.

Not surprisingly, demographers found that men everywhere tie the knot later than women and that both brides and grooms are leaving themselves more time to play the field before taking a trip to the altar.

In the developed world, the overall average of each nation's mean marriage age is 27.9 years for men and 25.2 years for women. Among developing countries, the overall average for nations is 24.9 years for men and 21.4 years for women.

In the United States, the age for first marriage is 28.7 years for men and 26 years for women, according to the survey, which is based on 1995 data. By age 49, 91.9 percent of U.S. men and 93.9 percent of women have married at least once.

But age of first marriage varies widely from country to country, even among those within the same region of the world, the report notes. In Asia, for example, the average age at first marriage for men ranges from 22 years in Nepal to 30 years in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

In more than half the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, first marriages occur much later, on average, at least 30 years for men and 27 for women. However, the report notes that the data don't reflect "the large proportions of consensual unions, which are common in many countries of the region."

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