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For First Time, Married Couples No Longer Majority of All Households

2010 census, gov census

Relics of a dwindling tradition?

The 2010 Census shows that the typical American household no longer involves a married man and woman. The number of married Americans has been in steady decline for decades, but for the first time the percent of households headed by married couples dipped below the 50 percent mark.

Married couples make up 48 percent of all households in the U.S. The last Census, a decade ago, put them in the majority at 52 percent.

What’s going on?

In an Associated Press story, Portland State University demographer Charles Rynerson said that there are a couple of reasons: the aging population is more likely to be widowed or divorced; and young people are putting off marriage. The latest figures show that men in the U.S. marry, on average, at 28 years-old, women at 26. And plenty of couples are sharing households, just not tying the knot. In 2009, some 7.5 million households were headed by opposite-sex, unmarried couples.

This new Census data shows the national trend, which was triggered by the lower number of married couples in 32 states. In seven other states, the number of married households wasn’t even 51 percent. That leaves just 11 states where married couples were in the majority.

The state with the highest number of marrieds is Utah, with 61 percent of the households headed by a legally wed couple.

What’s the status of your household? Does the decreasing rate of married couples worry you or is it indicative of a brighter future for families?

Photo: Whistling In the Dark via Flickr

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