The data, out today from the National Center for Health Statistics, are based on 22,682 in-person interviews from 2006 to 2010 with men and women (not couples) ages 15 to 44. Among the 12,279 women studied, the percentage of never-marrieds rose to 38% from 33% in 1995.
The highest percentage of women who have never married was among blacks (55%), followed by U.S.-born Hispanics (49%), Asians (39%) and whites (34%).
The percentage of women who said they were in a first marriage declined to 36%, from 44% in 1982. Similar data on men were not collected until 2002.
The data reflect not only the “delay in getting married for the first time” but also “that more people are cohabitating,” says Galena Rhoades of the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies.
Researchers consider the numbers reliable: “Of all the government reports, this series has the best methodology about marriage and divorce,” says sociologist Andrew Cherlin, a demographer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The data show that nearly one in two marriages break up within 20 years; 1995 data found that 50% of all women’s first marriages survived. The new data show that 52% of women’s first marriages survived the 20-year mark. Among men, 56% of marriages did.
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