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Record number of 40-year-olds in the US have never been married, study reveals

A record number of 40 year olds in the United States have never been married, according to new research.

A quarter of those reaching the milestone age remained unwed – a “significant” increase from 20 per cent a decade earlier, according to Pew Research Center. 

The Pew findings may be indicative of how Americans view marriage and how they determine when to marry a partner.

Using the latest US Census Bureau data from 2021, Pew found that Black men were more likely to have never been married than any other race or gender.

In general, men were more likely to have never been married than women.

Additionally, 40-year-olds without a four-year college degree were less likely to be married than those who had at least completed a bachelor’s degree.

Those who have a four-year degree were more likely to be married.

But even though the number of 40-year-olds with four-year degrees has increased since 1980, the number getting married decreased.

The statistics point to a larger trend of today’s adults viewing marriage differently than older generations.

Since 1980, the number of Americans forgoing marriage has increased drastically.

Only 6 per cent of 40-year-olds had never been married in 1980 compared to 25 per cent in 2021.

Part of this is that many unmarried 40-year-olds are living with a romantic partner but cohabitating. Some 22 per cent of never-married adults, aged 40 to 44, lived with someone else in 2022.

A 2019 study from Pew found that cohabitation became more popular than marriage between 2013 and 2017.

“We can’t assume that if someone has not married by age 40, they never will. In fact, about one-in-four 40-year-olds who had not married in 2001 had done so by age 60,” wrote Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew.

“If that pattern holds, a similar share of today’s never-married 40-year-olds will marry in the coming decades.”


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