Estimated Median Age of First Marriage by Gender: 1890 to 2018

Couples Are Waiting Longer to Get Married Every Year

Bride and groom rings
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There has been a change in the median age at first marriage for both men and women in the United States, and the amount of change appears to be getting larger. In 2018, the median age at first marriage was almost 30 for men and almost 28 for women. While historically women married at an age that was three years younger than men, that gap has been slowly but steadily decreasing. Now they are only separated by two years, on average.

Here are the statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau of the median age at first marriage and a graph of the data going back to 1890.

Year Men Woman
2018 29.8 27.8
2017 29.5 27.4
2016 29.5 27.4
2015 29.2 27.1
2014 29.3 27.0
2013 29.0 26.6
2012 28.6 26.6
2011 28.7 26.5
2010 28.2 26.1
2009 28.1 25.9
2008 27.6 25.9
2007 17.5 25.6
2006 27.5 25.5
2005 27.1 25.3
2004 27.4 25.3
2003 27.1 25.3
2002 26.9 25.3
2001 26.9 25.1
2000 26.8 25.1
1999 26.9 25.1
1998 26.7 25.0
1997 26.8 25.0
1996 27.1 24.8
1995 26.9 24.5
1994 26.7 24.5
1993 26.5 24.5
1992 26.5 24.4
1991 26.3 24.1
1990 26.1 23.9
1989 26.2 23.8
1988 25.9 23.6
1987 25.8 23.6
1986 25.7 23.1
1985 25.5 23.3
1984 25.4 23.0
1983 25.4 22.8
1982 25.2 22.5
1981 24.8 22.3
1980 24.7 22.0
1979 24.4 22.1
1978 24.2 21.8
1977 24.0 21.6
1976 23.8 21.3
1975 23.5 21.1
1974 23.1 21.1
1973 23.2 21.0
1972 23.3 20.9
1971 23.1 20.9
1970 23.2 20.8
1969 23.2 20.8
1968 23.1 20.8
1967 23.1 20.6
1966 22.8 20.5
1965 22.8 20.6
1964 23.1 20.5
1963 22.8 20.5
1962 22.7 20.3
1961 22.8 20.3
1960 22.8 20.3
1959 22.5 20.2
1958 22.6 20.2
1957 22.6 20.3
1956 22.5 20.1
1955 22.6 20.2
1954 23.0 20.3
1953 22.8 20.2
1952 23.0 20.2
1951 22.9 20.4
1950 22.8 20.3
1949 22.7 20.3
1948 23.3 20.4
1947 23.7 20.4
1940 24.3 21.5
1930 24.3 21.3
1920 24.6 21.2
1910 25.1 21.6
1900 26.1 22.0
1890 26.1 22.0

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the figures reported for 1947 to 1999 are based on Current Population Survey data. The figures for years prior to 1947 are based on decennial censuses. A standard error of 0.1 years is appropriate to measure sampling variability for any of the above estimated median ages at first marriage based on Current Population Survey data.

Impact of Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

The legalization of same-sex marriage in mid-2015 may have resulted in raising the average age of first marriage in the years that followed. Long-committed couples were finally able to be legally wed. One survey in 2017 found that the average marrying age for male-male couples was 46 and for female-female couples was 36. However, the trend had been upwards for male-female couples for decades and there is no obvious change in that rate from looking at the graphs. As those long-committed couples take the plunge, the demographics of same sex couples getting married for the first time may come to resemble those of the general population.

The State of Marriage

Pew Research Center, "marriage continues to lose market share among Americans to other arrangements, such as cohabitation or living alone. According to census data cited in the report, barely half of adults ages 18 and older are married— 51 percent in 2010, compared with 72 percent in 1960. This decline is especially notable for young adults: 20 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were married in 2010, compared with 59 percent in 1960. Associated with this trend is that the age at which men and women marry for the first time continues to rise to record levels."

It is notable that public attitudes about marriage are changing. Approximately 39 percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete. Despite this, a majority of people who have never married say they would like to marry someday.

Sources:

U.S. Census Bureau: Valentine's Day 2013: Feb. 14. Released by the U.S. Census Bureau's Public Information Office. 2/12/2013.

U.S. Census Bureau: Technical Documentation -- Current Population Survey.

U.S. Census Bureau: Annual Social and Economic Supplement: 2003 Current Population Survey -- Current Population Reports -- Series P20-553 -- America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2003 and earlier reports.