WASHINGTON Not since the 19th century have Americans postponedmarriage as long as they are now, with women marrying later than everbefore.
The median age for an American bride is 23.3 years, meaning thathalf are older than that when they tie the knot for the first time,the Census Bureau reports.
That's the highest age at first marriage since recordkeepingstarted in 1890, when the typical woman first wed at age 22. Formen, the median age at first marriage has climbed to 25.5, thehighest since 1900 when it was 25.9.
From the relatively high levels of the late 19th century, medianage for marriage declined gradually until World War II, when it beganto plummet. The all-time low was recorded in the postwar era ofeconomic expansion, when the age fell to 22.5 for men and 20.1 forwomen in 1956.
Since then it has climbed again, with children of postwar BabyBoom years choosing to pursue educations and careers and postponingmarriage and family obligations.
The median ages at first marriage - meaning half marry beforethat age and half later - were reported in the Census Bureau's studyof "Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1985."
Addressing a wide variety of topics the study also reportedthat: The number of unmarried couples living together has leveledoff at about 1.9 million after skyrocketing in recent years,confirming a preliminary finding issued just a year ago. Newfigures, due out later this month, are expected to show a smallincrease for 1986. Nearly one-fourth of children under age 18 livewith only one parent. The 23 percent of children in such families isup from 9 percent in 1960 and 12 percent in 1970. There were 128 divorced persons for every 1,000 married people, upfrom 47 for every 1,000 people in 1970. The ratio for men is 103,compared with 153 for women, since men are more likely to remarryafter divorce and do so sooner than women. More than one American adult in 10 lives alone, triple the numbersince 1960, although the rate of increase has slowed in recent yearsas tighter economic conditions discouraged young people from settingup their own households.
Indeed, among people aged 18 to 24, 60 percent of men and 48percent of women still lived either at home with their parents or incollege dorms. That's up from 52 percent of men and 35 percent ofwomen in 1960.
Naturally, as the age at first marriage increases, so does thepercentage of people who have never been married.
For men aged 20 to 24, some 75.6 percent were single in thestudy, the largest share for that age since 1900 when it was 77.9percent. For women aged 20 to 24 there were 58.5 percent single, themost ever in records dating back to 1890.
Judging by the ratio of single men to single women, marriageprospects would appear to be better for younger women and older men.
The study found that between ages 15 and 24 there are 112 menper 100 women, and between 25 and 34 there were 119 single men per100 single women.
After that age, the number of single women outnumbers singlemen. At ages 35 to 44 it's 84 men per 100 women; from 45 to 64 theratio is 54 men per 100 women, and after age 65 there are only 26single men per 100 women.