Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Fewer women. especially undereducated woman, are getting married according to a new Family Profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

According to “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” the U.S. marriage rate now is 31.1 marriages per 1,000 married women. the lowest it’s been in over a century, compared to 1920, when the marriage rate was a 92.3 per 1,000 married women..

Since the 1970’s, when workers wage growth slowed and then started to decline, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.

Furthermore, “the average age at first marriage for women and men is at a historic highpoint, and has been increasing at a steady pace” states Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the Center. This has helped reduce the rate of divorce; as teen and early twenties brides have higher divorce rates than older couples.

There has also been a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who are separated or divorced. In 1920, less than 1 percent of women were currently divorced. Today, 15 percent are currently divorced. The divorce rate  has slightly declined in the last two decades, but individuals today are less likely to remarry than they did in the past.

The marriage rate has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the education divide has grown.

In the last 50 years there have only been small changes in the percentage of women married among the college educated. The greatest declines in marriage rates have been among women without a high school diploma.

The Bowling Green State University report uses government gathered statistics that do not include data about religion, but from dozens of other surveys we know that women who identify themselves as religious have above average rates of marriage.

Jews and Catholics still have higher than average marriage rates and lower than average divorce rates, but they are slowly becoming more normal; alas.

Finally, 48 percent of first births now take place outside of marriage, says a report released (3/13) by the National Marriage Project, the Relate Institute and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. There are giant differences between woman who are high school drop outs, college grads, and those in-between.

Among young women with high school diplomas, 58 percent of first births are now outside marriage. For high-school dropouts it’s 83 percent. For college grads it’s only 12 percent and for Jews it’s less than 5 percent. The report notes that 54 percent of young women in the U.S. are high school graduates and 37 percent are college graduates. The majority of Jewish women are collage graduates.

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