More Americans Than Ever Have Never Been Married

HeartOpener_GabrielaAlford PAGIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
We already knew that over half the country is "single" (according to the government's definition of the word). Now, there's even more data to reinforce our vision of an increasingly-independent America: A new Pew Research Center report suggests a record number of Americans have never been married.
Advertisement
The report, published yesterday, shows that as time goes on, there are significantly more people in the U.S. over the age of 25 who have never been married. In 1960, only 9% of Americans ages 25 and up were in that category, but in 2012 (the most recent year with available data) that number was up to 20%. And, with further analyses, the report suggests that 25% of adults ages 25 to 34 will probably never marry .
In the report, "never married" means exactly that: The label doesn't include people who are divorced, widowed, or separated. In the government's eyes, however, the term "single" does include those groups. So "single" Americans are all Americans who have never married as well as those who are divorced, separated, etc. And, according to Pew's analysis of the Current Population Survey, 24% of those U.S. "singles" between the ages of 25 and 34 are actually living with a partner. It's worth noting that LGBTQ folks are included in the analyses here, but there aren't any separate analyses specifically addressing non-marriage trends in those groups.
So, what does this report suggest? That our attitudes toward marriage are changing, along with our attitudes towards social and economic issues (researchers argue that much of this steering clear of marriage has to do with today's less-than-ideal economic realities). Although the getting-married-later-in-life trend has been identified for a while now, this could represent a statistical tipping point that reflects our evolving ideas of relationships. So, although we aren't all necessarily single, these numbers emphasize that those of us who aren't hitched aren't alone.
Advertisement