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Barely half of U.S. adults are married, a record low

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Updated: January 16, 2012 10:35AM

The percentage of married adults in the U.S. dropped to a record low 51 percent in 2010 — down from 72 percent in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.

The steepest drop occurred among adults ages 18 to 29. Just 20 percent of them were married last year, compared with 59 percent in 1960.

The median age at first marriage is also at its highest — 26.5 years for women and 28.7 years for men — and over the past 50 years has risen by about six years for both women and men.

The decline in marriage of people over 18 has been accompanied by an increase in cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood, researchers noted.

Researchers also found that the number of new marriages in the U.S. fell by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010.

Pew researchers said it’s not yet known whether today’s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it. A much higher share of people — 72 percent — have been married at least once. But even that’s down from 1960, when 85 percent of people were counted as “ever married.”

Gannett News Service

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