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U.S. Marriage Rate Is Lowest in More Than 100 Years

Almost 60 percent decrease in rate since 1970; decrease noted in marriage rates across races

FRIDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. marriage rate is currently the lowest it has been in more than a century, according to a report published by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR).

Julissa Cruz, from the NCFMR in Bowling Green, Ohio, used data from the National Vital Statistics, Decennial Census, and American Community Survey to examine demographic changes in women's marriage patterns over the past century.

According to the report, the U.S. marriage rate is currently the lowest it has been in more than a century, at 31.1 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 years and older. The highest rate was 92.3 in 1920. Since 1970, the rate has decreased almost 60 percent. The proportion of married women was highest in 1950, at about 65 percent; the current percentage is the lowest since the turn of the century (47 percent). The proportion of women who never married was lowest in 1960 (17 percent) and peaked in 1880 (31 percent) and 2011 (29 percent). Fifteen percent of women are currently separated or divorced, compared with 1 percent in 1920. Since the 1950s, the proportion of married women has decreased among all racial/ethnic groups, with the most dramatic declines for Hispanic (33 percent) and black women (60 percent).

"Marriage is no longer compulsory," Susan Brown, co-director of the NCFMR, said in a statement. "It's just one of an array of options. Increasingly, many couples choose to cohabit and still others prefer to remain single."

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