How Marriage Has Changed In The Past Thirty Years


Gabrielle White

It’s no secret that the institution of marriage is changing – and rapidly.

For a closer look at these changes, Nathan Yau of Flowing Data graphed the results of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation to illustrate long term trends.

Looking at the percentage of people who are married, we see the biggest shift in people who are in their mid to late twenties: in 1986, about 75% of people between ages 25 to 29 were married. By 2009, only about half of people in that age group were married. Research suggests this trend might be a very healthy thing.

It’s also interesting to see the notorious Seven Year Itch show up in marriage and divorce data – in this time period, the median age for marriage was 22.3 and the median age for divorce was 30.1.

All that said, if you want to get married, the numbers are on your side. This data shows that nearly everyone (95%) has married by the time they reach the 55+ group. That number doesn’t move much between 1986 and 2009, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the next 30 years – we’re guessing a lot will change.

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