He Said, She Said: Delaying Marriage

What is the best age to get married?

With the exception of Alec Baldwin, 54, and his 28-year-old bride Hilaria Thomas, this Sunday’s New York Times wedding section is filled with happy couples in their late twenties and early thirties. 

It will come as a surprise to no one that marriage rates have steadily dropped over the past few decades in the United States. As a result of changing social mores and an unsteady economy, couples are waiting longer to tie the knot, or deciding against matrimony entirely. 

According to a December 2011 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of adults ages 18 or older are married, as compared to 72 percent of the same age group in 1960. The median age at first marriage, meanwhile, has steadily risen from 22.8 for men and 20.3 for women in 1960, to 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women in 2011.

The strongest drop in marriage rates can be seen in the 20-24 age group. In 1960, 60 percent of individuals in this age bracket were married, as compared to 14 percent in 2010. 

Some possible reasons to delay marriage may include pursuing higher education, placing an emphasis on finding a mate with steady employment, and feeling less pressure to conform to the expectation of marriage on young adults.

Regardless of the reasons why Americans are waiting longer to get married, there is evidence to show that waiting can lead to a healthier marriage. The likelihood of divorce drops with each year a woman waits to get married, and experts say incidences of domestic violence have decreased considerably over the past 30 years.


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