It’s safe to say that most people were raised in the shadow of romance.
And every perfect love story we were told growing up ended in marriage.
But what does marriage in the US and around the world look like in reality?
How many people are getting married? What drives this lifelong commitment?
I’ll examine the answer to these questions by looking at some of the most important marriage statistics.
Marriage statistics of the past in the US
In the US, there is data on marriage rates going back to the start of the 20th century:
1. In 1920, there were 12 marriages per 1,000 people in the US.
This was after World War I, and marriages were twice as common as today.
2. In the 1930s, the marriage rate in the US fell.
This was during the Great Depression.
However, marriages rose again in 1946 after World War II ended.
During this time, the peak marriage rate was 16.4 per 1,000 people.
3. In 1950, marriage rates decreased, but they immediately bounced back in the 1960s.
4. The long decline in marriage rates started in the 1970s.
Since 1972, the marriage rate in the US has fallen by almost 50%.
Source: Our World in Data
Marriage statistics Worldwide
Other rich countries also have statistical records that go back numerous generations.
Take a look at the data below:
5. In 2016, 2.2 million marriages took place in Europe.
6. In 2017, the West Bank and Gaza had the highest number of marriages per 1,000 people worldwide, at 10.4.
7. In 2017, Qatar had the lowest number of marriages per 1,000 people, at 1.4.
8. 10.14 million marriages were registered in China in 2018, slightly decreasing from 10.63 million in 2017.
9. In 2015, Lithuania had the highest marriage rate, at 7.6 in 1,000 people. Followed by Malta at 6.7 and Latvia at 6.3.
10. In 2018, Here are the top 20 countries with the highest number of marriages per 1,000 of the population:
- Palestine: 10.0
- Fiji: 9.8
- Egypt: 9.6
- Bahamas: 9.5
- Uzbekistan: 9.5
- Tajikistan: 8.9
- Albania: 8.0
- Mauritius: 7.9
- Kyrgyzstan: 7.8
- Sri Lanka: 7.8
- Moldova: 7.5
- Kazakhstan: 7.5
- Iran: 7.5
- Guam: 7.5
- Romania: 7.3
- Lithuania: 7.1
- Turkey: 7.1
- United States: 6.9
- Jordan: 6.9
- Cyprus: 6.8
Recent marriage statistics in the US
11. 2.4 million weddings are performed annually in the US.
12. In 2018, Nevada had the highest marriage rate, at 26.7 per 1,000 residents. In 2020, the state’s marriage rate was 21 per 1,000 people, which is still the highest in the US.
13. 61.41 million people were married in the US in 2021, up from 40.2 million in 1960.
14. Half of Americans 18 years old and older were married in 2017. This is down 8% since 1990.
15. In 2018, 68.5 million married men and 69.25 million married women were living in the US.
Age and marriage
In many countries, the declining marriage rate was accompanied by an increase in the age at which people were getting married.
This is evident in wealthier countries, particularly in North America and Europe.
Take a look at the data below.
16. For women, the average age of marriage in Sweden in 1990 was 28.
In 2017, it was 34.
17. In Bangladesh and different countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the average age of marriage remained consistent.
Child marriage is common in Niger, and the average marriage age for women has been 17 years since the 1990s.
18. According to the 1971 British census, 85% of women between 25 and 29 were married.
However, that number decreased by 58% by 2011.
19. In 2018, the median age of first marriage in the US was 30 for men and 28 for women.
20. Men are 3.3 years older on average than women when they first get married.
21. In 2016, The average age for first marriage in the Asia Pacific Region was 29 for men and 27 for women.
22. Of men in England and Wales who were born in 1940, around 83% were married by 30 years old. However, among those born in the 1980s, only 25% were married by 30.
Divorce and widowhood statistics
23. In the US, divorce rates have increased among older Americans.
Around 10 in 1,000 married adults aged 50 and older divorced, up 5 from 1990.
24. For those aged 65 and older, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990.
25. Between 1970 and 2008, the divorce rate around the world doubled from 2.6 per 1,000 people to 5.5 per 1,000 people.
26. In 2016, 1 million divorces took place in Europe.
27. Around 25% of men aged 70 or older had been widowed, compared to 58% of women in the same age group.
28. The median number of years of first marriages that lead to divorce is 8 years.
29. In 2018, the US divorce rate was 2.9 per 1,000 of the population.
34. 17% of divorces in the US happen due to infidelity.
Cohabitation and marriage
30. The number of children born outside marriage in OECD countries has increased.
In 1970, less than 10% of children were born outside of marriage, but that percentage increased to more than 20% in 2014.
The same is true for Mexico and Costa Rica, proving that this is not only limited to rich countries.
31. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of young adults between 18 and 24 who lived with an unmarried partner went up from 0.1% to 9.4% between 1968 to 2018.
32. In another survey by Pew Research, most Americans are now in favor of giving unmarried couples the same legal rights as married ones.
33. The increase in cohabiting couples is driven by couples who want to live with their partner before getting married.
34. In the UK, 85% of people who have gotten married lived together first.
35. In the last five decades around the world, two-thirds of all women cohabited or were married.
36. Different regions exhibit varying statistics when it comes to cohabitation.
The rate increased in Asia, remained flat in South America, and declined in North Europe and North America.
37. In addition to half of the adults in the US who were married, 7% cohabited in 2016.
38. In 2016, 18 million unmarried Americans lived with their partner.
This is a 29% increase since 2007.
More than half of the cohabiters were younger than 35.
39. Cohabitation is also rising among Americans 50 years old and older.
40. More people in the younger generation accept cohabiting.
In a 2019 Pew Research Center Report, most Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Zers say that couples who live together without being married don’t make a difference in society.
Meanwhile, 54% of people in the Silent Generation say the same, and 41% say it’s a bad thing.
41. 18 million Americans cohabited in 2019. This is up 29% since 2007.
42. In 2015, 0.5% of Americans were unmarried yet cohabited with their same-sex partner.
Single parenting statistics
43. Women are the head of most single-parent households, which is more evident for parents of younger children.
In OECD countries, 12% of children aged 0 to 5 lived with a single parent.
92% of those were single mothers.
44. Single-parent households are one of the most financially vulnerable groups.For example:
47% of single-parent households across European countries were at risk of social exclusion and poverty in 2017, compared to only 21% of two-parent households.
45. A couple of centuries ago, single parenting was caused mainly by high maternal mortality instead of relationship breakdown.
Same-sex marriage statistics
46. Denmark became the first country to recognize same-sex couples legally.
In 1989, the country established “registered partnerships,” which granted those in same-sex relationships most rights enjoyed by married heterosexuals.
47. In the first two decades of the 21st century, many countries changed their attitudes and legislation on same-sex marriage.
By December 2019, 30 countries recognized same-sex marriages.
48. Only Taiwan and South Africa recognize same-sex marriages across Asia and Africa, the most populated regions in the world.
49. In the US, same-sex marriage expanded from only one state in 2004 to all 50 states in 2015.
The largest growth was from 2012 to 2015.
50. Around 10.2% of LGBT adults in 2017 were married to a same-sex spouse.
This is a 7.9% increase in the months before the 2015 Supreme Court decision.
However, it’s only 9.6% higher than in the first year after the ruling.
51. From 1960 to 2019, the percentage of countries that consider same-sex sexual acts as criminal acts has gone down from 77% to 34%.
52. Support for same-sex marriage legalization has grown.
In 2007, 62% favored and 32% opposed it.
53. 61% of same-sex couples who lived together before are now married.
54. In a survey, 63% of respondents believed same-sex marriage should be recognized as valid.
Reasons why people get married
55. 88% of Americans cited love as a reason to get married.
Here are other reasons listed by Americans:
- Making a lifelong commitment: 81%
- Companionship: 76%
- Having their relationship recognized in a religious ceremony: 30%
- Financial stability: 28%
- Legal rights and benefits: 23%
Source: Pew Research
Qualities of a good husband or wife
56. According to a 2017 survey, 71% of adults say that being a good financial provider is an important quality for men to be a good partner or husband.
Only 32% said the same for a woman.
Source: Pew Research
Reasons that contribute to a successful marriage
57. In a 2015 survey, married people stated the following reasons that helped them stay married:
- Shared interests: 64%
- Satisfying sexual relationship: 61%
- Sharing household chores: 56%
Source: Pew Research
58. 23% of married people in 2013 had been married before, compared to only 13% in 1960.
59. 20% of new marriages in 2013 involved both spouses being married at least once before.
60. Men remarry more often than women.
Among widowed or divorced men, 64% married again, compared with 52% of women.
61. Among previously married women, 54% stated they did not want to be married again, compared to 30% of men.
Interracial and intercultural marriage statistics
62. In 2015, 1 in 6 newlyweds were married to someone of a different race.
This number has increased since 1967, with 3% of newlyweds who intermarried.
63. The people who are most likely to intermarry in the US are:
64. There has been a drastic increase in intermarriage among black newlyweds:
With 18% marrying another ethnicity or race, up from 5% in 1980.
65. In a 2019 report, 1 in 10 white newlyweds married someone with a different ethnicity or race.
66. 53% of millennials and Gen Zers say that marrying someone of a different race is good for society.
Only 41% of Gen Xers, 30% of Boomers, and 20% of the Silent generation say the same.
Source: Pew Research
Interreligious marriage statistics
67. Only 4 in 10 Americans who married in 2010 have a spouse in a different religious group, compared to only 19% in 1960.
Most of these intermarriages are between Christians and people who are religiously unaffiliated.
Source: Pew Research
Inter-political marriage statistics
68. According to a 2016 Pew Research Survey, 77% of Democrats and Republicans who were married said that their partner or spouse was in the same political party as them.
Source: Pew Research
Forced marriages Statistics Worldwide
69. In 2016, the estimated number of people in forced marriages was 15.4 million.
Among this number, 88% were women and girls.
70. 37% of forced marriage victims were under 18 when they got married.
Around 44% were under 15.
71. 2 per 1,000 people in Asia and the Pacific are victims of forced marriage.
72. The UK Forced Marriage Unit supported 1,428 cases of possible forced marriages in 2016.
Of these cases, 26% involved victims below 18, and 34% were 18 to 25 years old.
80% were women, and 20% were men.
Forced marriage in the US
73. In an online survey of 7,791 people, the estimated prevalence of forced marriage in the US is 11%.
Around 7% were in a forced marriage, and 3% faced or experienced it but are no longer married to that person.
Approximately 1% were threatened with forced marriage.
74. In a national survey, over 3,000 were known or suspected cases of forced marriage from 2009 to 2011.
75. Immigrant communities from 56 different countries were discovered to have cases of forced marriages.
This is mainly practiced by people of faiths, such as Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims.
76. Around 207,468 minors between 2000 and 2015 in the US were married.
Of this statistic, 87% were girls.
Around 86% are married adults despite being a minor.
Resistance to marriage
77. The rate of women between 60 and 64 who had never been married is lower compared to women in the same age bracket in the decades since.
78. In 2010, 4.3% of women worldwide got to their late forties without being married.
79. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of women who were never married increased.
80. In New Zealand and Australia, the number of women who did not marry increased to 14.1% in 2010 from 4.4% in 1990.
81. In a 2017 Statistic survey in the US, 27% of people did not want to get married.
82. In a 2010 Statista survey, half of Americans aged 18 to 29 said marriage was becoming obsolete.
Arranged marriage statistics Worldwide
83. 55% of marriages in the world are arranged marriages.
84. 90% of marriages in India are arranged.
85. In many countries, men and women cannot reject the spouse chosen for them.
86. Around the globe, the divorce rate of arranged marriage is 6.3%.
87. There are 26.25 million arranged marriages per year.
88. In an arranged marriage, men are usually 4.5 years older than women.
89. In Niger, 26% of girls are 15 years or younger.
90. 48% of girls below 18 years old in South Asia are involved in an arranged marriage.
91. In a 2012 survey, 74% of respondents approved of arranged marriage and preferred it over choosing their partner freely.
92. 86% of the Indian population in the US marry someone they met in the community.
Source: Compare Camp