Married Households No Longer the Majority

June 1, 2011

Married couples no longer make up the majority of U.S. households for the first time in U.S. history, according to the latest census data. Married couples represent 48 percent of all households, which is down from 52 percent in the last census.

Portland State University demographer Charles Rynerson says that with an aging population more people are living alone with more household members now likely to be divorced or widowed later in life. Also part of the trend, Rynerson says, is that twenty-somethings are delaying marriages. The median age for first marriages has gradually climbed since the 1960s: Men are now 28 on average and women 26 (in the 1960s, men were 23 and women were 20).

Also, more unmarried couples are making up households than they have in the past. Last year, the Census Bureau reported that opposite-sex unmarried couples living together increased 13 percent from 2009 to 7.5 million.

However, not all states were seeing a decrease in the number of married households. Sixty-one percent of households in Utah were led by married couples--the highest in the country.

Source: “Married Folks Now Outnumbered: Census Data Shows Them Leading Less Than Half of U.S. Households,”Associated Press (May 28, 2011)