Married, more and less

We complete the lines for another decade.

It’s that time again, when the Census Bureau announces the release of data on family and marriage from the March Current Population Survey. This year we complete our decade trends. This includes one of the longest running series, the estimated age at which men and women marry for the first time (if they do). With no further ado, from 1890 to 2010:

Source: My chart from Census data.

The decade was a pretty big one for the 50-year trend of increasing age at marriage, which is at all-time highs for both men and women.

Note this is not really the age at which people married last year, but rather an estimate of age at which half of the population expected to ever marry has ever been married, I think. If that’s confusing, don’t blame me, blame Shryon and Siegel (p. 292). As I mentioned the other day, we can’t know for sure how many people will ever get married, though chances are it’s at least 90% overall (plus or minus a few million). Unless that changes.

Anyway, the latest numbers are also a chance to revisit the shocking disparity in marriage rates between Black and (non-Hispanic) White women, shown here by age:

Source: My chart from Census data.

That gap in the 30-34 age range is more than 32 percentage points.

In that 30-34 age range, not coincidentally, the Current Population Survey counts a whopping 120 Black women for every 100 Black men — but even numbers of White women men. That presumably reflects a combination of mortality and institutionalization (since prisoners in particular aren’t included in the survey), though it could have something to do with racial identification, since I’m using the “Black only” and “White only” categories, excluding the small percentage that report more than one race.

Anyways, I just happened to be talking in class about one of those 28-year-old men who got married this year…

…and his  bride. (Couples in the Times wedding section are fair game for sociology class so they make great material, including in this case fine photos.) As it happens, she was older than average for a first marriage, at 31 — one of the growing population of highly educated women whose marriages come after their careers have gotten going, which in her case includes vital medical work in Haiti, which postponed the wedding a little. I wish them well, and thanks for the photo.

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