Marriage is on a decline and single living is on the rise across the globe. These are some of the important conclusions from a wide-ranging report released by UN Women in the summer of 2019 entitled “Families in a Changing World.”
We gathered these key marriage statistics to check if this conclusion holds some truth, and some insights do support the notion that marriage is in decline. For instance, it’s simply becoming harder to start a family, younger generations are starting to view marriage as obsolete, and relatively high rates of divorce are painting a grim picture for those even considering marriage in the first place.
Marriage Statistics Table of Contents
Marriage Statistics Worldwide
It became harder and harder to start a family during the recent years. More and more people are starting late in their lives in terms of career and personal growth and add in the factor of financial instability, a lot of people put off marriage or don’t get married at all.
- In 2010, 4.3% of women worldwide got to their late forties without ever marrying.
- The number of women who have never married has increased in the two decades between 1990 and 2010.
- Australia and New Zealand had the most remarkable increase of 9.7%. From 4.4% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2010.
- On average, men first get married at 26.6 years old and women are 23.3 years old.
- Adults in Australia and New Zealand wait the longest before getting married.
- In 2010, close to 5% of women and about 3% of men in their late forties were either divorce or separated.
- Men are an average of 3.3 years older than women during the time they first get married.
- In almost four decades between 1970 and 2008, divorce rate has more than doubled globally, from 2.6 divorces for every 1,000 married couples to 5.5.
- A Statista survey in the US revealed that 27% of the respondents didn’t want to get married in 2017.
- In 2016, an estimate of 2.2 million marriages and almost 1 million divorces took place in Europe.
- West Bank & Gaza is ranked first with the highest number of marriages per 1,000 population at 10.4% in 2017.
- Qatar is ranked first as the country with the lowest number of marriages per 1,000 population at 1.4% in 2017.
- In 2016, the mean age for first marriage in the Asia Pacific region was 29 years for men and 27 years for women.
- The mean oldest age of women at first marriage is 35.3 years old in 2016.
- In 2018, an estimate of 10.14 million marriages were registered in China, a slight decrease from 10.63 million in the previous year.
- Lithuania had the highest rate of marriage in 2014, which stood at 7.6 people per 1,000 inhabitants, followed by Malta and Latvia at 6.7 and 6.3 respectively.
Marriage Statistics in the United States
In 2010, a Statista survey showed that almost half of Americans aged between 18 and 29 thought that marriage was already becoming obsolete. Data below shows that the annual number of marriages in the US has slowly but steadily declined over the last 20 years.
- A total of 2.4 million weddings are performed each year in the US.
- In the US, Nevada had the highest marriage rate, with 26.7 marriage per 1,000 residents in 2018.
- In 2019, there were 61.96 million married couples in the US, up from 40.2 million married couples in 1960.
- There were 68.5 million married men and 69.25 million married women living in the US in 2018.
- In 2019, 63% of respondents stated that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid.
- 65% of adults between the age of 30-34 have been or were married in 2010.
- In 2018, the median age for the first wedding among women stood at 28.3 years.
- The number of Americans cohabiting reached 18 million in 2016, up 29% since 2007.
- 23% of married people had already been married before in 2013, compared to merely 13% in 1960.
- In 2015, one in six newlyweds (17%) were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.
- 0.5% of the American population lived in the same-sex domestic partnerships (unmarried) in 2015.
- 58% of women aged 70 and over had been widowed while only 25% of men in the same age group had been widowed.
- On average, women are 2.5% years younger than their husbands.
- The median number of years a first marriage lasted and ended in divorce was estimated to be 8 years for both men and women.
- In 2018, the divorce rate in the US stood at 2.9 per 1,000 of the population.
- 17% of divorces in the US are due to infidelity.
Marriage rates in the U.S., by state 2018
District of Columbia: 7.8
District of Columbia
New York: 7.1
New Hampshire: 6.9
StatistaCreated by CompareCamp.com
Arranged Marriage Statistics
Despite the modern society we live in today, arranged marriages are still very much in practice. It might be a foreign concept in the US and much of the Western world, but is a fairly common practice in other parts of the world.
- 55% of marriages that happen across the globe today are arranged marriages.
- In India, the rate of arranged marriage is 90%.
- In some countries, the man or the woman can reject the chosen spouse.
- 6.3% is the divorce rate of arranged marriages globally.
- There are 26,250,000 arranged marriages annually.
- The man is typically 4.5 years older than the woman in an arranged marriage.
- 26% of girls 15 years and below in Niger are involved in an arranged marriage.
- In South Asia, 48% of the girls who are involved in an arranged marriage are below 18 years of age.
- In 2012, 74% of respondents in a survey conducted in India approved of arranged marriage and prefer it over freely chosen marriage.
- Up to 80% of marriages in Afghanistan are forced.
- 86% of Indian population in the US are still marrying someone they’ve met in the community.
- In the developing world, 1 out of 9 girls are married before they reach the age of 15.
- Every year, 14 million girls get married before they turn 18.
Not all weddings go the way of happy endings. Some end ugly, while others result in amicable separation—still, it’s also one of the factors why a lot of people don’t want to get married at all.
- In the US, 42-45% of first marriages end in divorce.
- There were 780,000 divorces conducted in the US in 2018.
- Maldives is the country with the highest divorce rate with 10.97 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year. Followed by Belarus and the US with 4.63 and 4.34 respectively.
- In 2002, 54.9% of new marriages ended in divorce in Sweden.
- The divorce rate in Europe increased from 0.8 per 1,000 persons in 1965 to 1.9 in 2016.
- In 2017, the distribution of the number of divorces in France showed that 33,456 of pronounced divorces were by mutual consent.
- According to data, 82% of respondents in a survey conducted in Italy believed that sometimes divorce is necessary while 18% said that divorce is evil.
- The Philippines and Vatican City are the only two remaining nations where divorce is not allowed.
- In 2016, Portugal and Luxembourg were ranked 1st and 2nd in Europe with the highest divorce rates registered at 69 and 66 for every 100 marriages, respectively.
- Crude divorce rates were highest in Kazakhstan in Asia Pacific with an estimated 3 divorces per 1,000 people in 2016.
- The divorce rate in China has climbed to 3.2 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in 2018.
Future of Marriage: What Lies Ahead?
A lot of people, especially young adults, are less likely to see marriage as an integral component for a happy and fulfilling life. The increase in women’s economic and social independence and society’s acceptance for nontraditional lifestyles had made marriage lower in rank behind advanced degrees or fulfilling jobs. At the same time, countless couples are remaining single or co-habitating due to high debt, unstable jobs, among other financial challenges, making marriage increasingly more for the rich and educated. This led some experts to argue that the government needs to intervene and do more to boost marriage rates.
Meanwhile, online dating sites and mobile apps such as Tinder and Grinder became popular in recent years, which created a trend of marriages made in cyberspace. “Marriage is now an option, not a necessity, from an economic standpoint,” says Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brooking Institution, a think tank in Washington. But no matter how one argues against marriage, it can’t be denied that it’s an integral part of forming a family, which is essential for the survival of the human race.
Like most human traditions, marriage is here to stay and will continue to adapt to current situations. After all, no one wants to grow old alone.
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- China: divorce rate 2018 | Statista
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- Share of adults ever married in the United States in 1960 and 2010, by
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- United States – share of Americans who want to get married | Statista
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- United States – Share of population in same-sex relationships | Statista
- Marital status of the U.S. population by sex 2019 | Statista
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- 27 Shocking Arranged Marriages Statistics – BrandonGaille.com