Marriage on the Decline

 While the majority of Americans are either married or want to be married someday, the number of those who consider it important has declined over the last seven years, a new Gallup poll shows, in line with a declining marriage rate in the U.S.

A Gallup poll, conducted June 20-24, found that 54 percent of Americans are currently married, and 21 percent of those who have never married would like to marry someday. Only 5 percent of Americans have never married and say they don't want to do so, while 20 percent say they have been previously married or did not classify their marital status.

Yet, less than two-thirds of Americans consider it very or somewhat important for a couple to marry if the two want to spend the rest of their lives together or when they want to have a child together.

In 2006, the last time Gallup asked about the importance of legal marriage, 73 percent said it is very or somewhat important when a man and a woman want to live together, and 76 percent said so when the two want to have a child together. Now, fewer than six in 10 Americans who have never been married but want to be say it is important that a couple get married in these circumstances.

"This suggests that a sizable percentage of Americans who would like to get married still don't think it is important that they do so," the authors of the report, Frank Newport and Joy Wilke, noted. "Additionally, younger Americans are significantly less likely than older groups to believe people should marry when making a lifetime commitment or having a child."