Millions of single Americans are marrying for the first time later than their parents. These late starters find it socially acceptable to marry and have families in their 30s and even 40s, according to research.
According to the Pew Research Center statistics, in 1960 the average woman got married for the first time at age 20 and men married at around 23. In the most recent data, from 2010, Pew reports American women on average are getting married for the first time at 26.5, and the average man is waiting until nearly 29.
Pew statistics, reported in December 2011, found that in 1960, 72 percent of all adults ages 18 and older were married. By 2010, that figure had dropped to just 51 percent.
“If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years,” Pew researchers said in a news release.
Some social conservatives fear that numbers suggest that Americans find marriage obsolete. That apparently is not so. American men and women continue to say that marriage is very important to them. In 2001 and 2002, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that 55 percent of the women and 47 percent of the men said that marriage is “very important” part of life; another 29 percent of women and 35 percent of men said it is “somewhat important.” Significantly, only 12 percent of the women and 13 percent of the men ranked marriage as “not very important,” and a “measly” 5 percent of both men and woman said marriage was not at all. By 25, 33 percent of the women and 29 percent of the men are already married, and another 30 percent of the women and 19 percent of the men wanted to be married.