Americans Still Choosing Marriage, Census Figures Show

A new Census Bureau report shows that the majority of Americans are still happy to say "I do."

Census figures show that 55 percent of adults had been married once by 2009.

And although the figures show that people are marrying later in life, more marriages are lasting, with 75 percent of those marrying since 1990 making it to their 10th anniversary – around three percent higher than in the early 1980s when the nation saw its highest divorce rates.

In 2009, more than half of currently married couples (55 percent) had been married for at least 15 years, while 35 percent had reached their 25th anniversary. Six percent had even passed their golden wedding anniversary.

These percentages are around one to two percentage points higher than they were in 1996, reflecting the leveling of divorce rates and increases in life expectancy.

Andrew Cherlin, a professor of public policy and sociology at Johns Hopkins University, suggests that more marriages are lasting today because couples are successfully balancing work and sharing their income.

“People seem to be finding a new marriage bargain that works for 21st-century couples,” he told The Washington Post.

“It’s based on pooling two incomes, replacing the old breadwinner-homemaker bargain that worked well in the ‘50s.”

Divorce rates peaked in the early 1980s after the legal process for divorcing was made easier, but the census finds that divorce rates across most age groups have fallen by an average of five percentage points since 1996.

While 18.8 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds who had been married were divorced in 1996, the percentage dropped to 13.8 percent in 2009. For 30- to 34-year-old women, the rate of divorce dropped from 25.6 to 21.3 percent. The divorce rate among older women (50 years and over), however, increased. Overall, 21 percent of men and 22 percent of women had ever been divorced.

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