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The words ‘I do’ still ringing loud and clear in U.S.
Census: Divorce rates level off
Question of the Day
Americans remain a marrying people, with 55 percent of everyone over the age of 15 having taken a walk down the aisle at least once by 2009 - almost as high as in the mid-1990s, the Census Bureau said in a new report Wednesday.
Compared to the "divorce revolution" years of the 1970s and early 1980s, marriage, divorce and remarriage trends haven't changed "radically" in recent years, said bureau analyst Rose Kreider.
In 2009, for instance, 52 percent of all American men had married once and 43 percent were still married to the same wife, not much different from 1996, when about 54 percent of all men had married once and 44 percent were with the same wife. In both years, around 20 percent of all men had ever divorced.
Also, in 2009, 83 percent of newlyweds celebrated their five-year anniversary, 55 percent of married couples made it to their 15th-year anniversary, 35 percent made it to their "silver" 25th anniversary and 6 percent reached their "golden" 50-year marker.
"These percentages are only 1 to 2 percentage points higher" than in 1996, "reflecting both the leveling of divorce rates and the increases in life expectancy," Ms. Kreider wrote.
The new census report is based on data from 39,000 households in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). It asks men and women about their current marital status as well as marital history.
"One of the most noticeable changes in marital patterns" is the delaying of marriage, said Ms. Kreider. For instance, in 2009, 47 percent of women in their late 20s were unmarried, compared to only 27 percent in 1986.
Race and ethnicity also seemed to play a role in whether a woman was single or married by her late 20s: Most Hispanic women (63.2 percent) and white women (56.7 percent) married before they turned 30. Most Asian women (88.2 percent) married by age 35, while most black women (60.8 percent) married by their 40th birthday.
Singleness was common among men of all races during their late 20s. However, most men decided to marry in their early 30s, with only black men tending to delay their nuptials a few years longer.
Other highlights in "Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009":
- Of baby boomer men (born 1960-1964), 60 percent reached their 40th wedding anniversary. Of women in the same cohort, 49.7 percent reached their 40th.
- Of the 15.6 million men who married in the 1990s, almost 90 percent celebrated their fifth anniversary. Of the 16.3 million women who were 1990s brides, a slightly lower 88 percent made it to Year Five.
- Of the first marriages that ended in divorce, their average duration was eight years. The same was true for second marriages that ended in divorce.
- Of people who remarried after a first marriage, half did so within four years.
- Among people aged 70 and older, 51 percent of wives and 23 percent of husbands were widowed. Most had not remarried by the time of the survey.
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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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