What Is Marriage?
Marriage is defined as the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship, traditionally a man and a woman, in which they become partners for life. Marriage statistics are important because they provide insight into trends and patterns in society. For example, marriage statistics can show changes in the average age at which people get married and the number of marriages that are religious ceremonies. Understanding trends in marriage can provide insight into changes in societal values and norms, as well as the impact of economic and demographic factors on family formation. These statistics can help inform decisions made by individuals, communities, and policymakers.
Globally, marriage rates have been declining in recent decades. In many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, marriage rates have been declining for decades and are currently at their lowest point in recorded history. However, this trend is not universal and varies significantly from country to country.
Marriage Statistics in the United StatesThe following table shows US-based Marriage Data and Statistics for 2020.
|Number of marriages in 2020||1,135,000|
|Marriage rate in 2020 (per 1,000 population)||6.1|
|Median age at first marriage for women in 2020||28.1|
|Median age at first marriage for men in 2020||30.2|
|Average length of first marriage that ends in divorce||8 years|
|Divorce rate in 2020 (per 1,000 population)||2.6|
|Percentage of adults who have never been married||32.90%|
|Percentage of adults who are currently married||47.00%|
|Percentage of adults who are divorced or separated||10.40%|
|Percentage of adults who are widowed||9.70%|
2022 Marriage Data and Statistics
- The total number of marriages in 2022 was 1,985,072 which equaled a marriage rate of 6.0 per 1,000 total population. This is a significant reduction from a total of 2,315,000 marriages and a marriage rate of 8.2 in 2000.
- The total number of divorces in 2022 was 689,308 equivalent to a divorce rate: 2.5 per 1,000 population. While in 2000 it was 944,000 divorces with a rate of 4.0.
- Marriage rates across states in the United States in 2022 showed that the top 5 states were Nevada-26.2, Hawaii-12.8, Montana-11.0, Utah-9.1 and Arkansas-8.2. Whereas the states with the least marriage rates were Louisiana-4.4, Massachusetts-4.6, Illinois 4.7, Minnesota 4.8 and Delaware-4.9.
- In 2021, the divorce rates showed that the 5 states with the highest rates were Nevada-26.2, Oklahoma-3.8, Wyoming-3.7, Alabama 3.6 and Arkansas-3.6. Whereas the states with the least divorce rates were Massachusetts-1.0, Illinois-1.3, Texas-1.4, Maryland-1.6 and Kansas 1.9.
Marriage Statistics in England and Wales
- Since 1972, the number of opposite-sex marriages has decreased by 46.5%, while marriage rates have fallen by more than three-quarters for men (76.1%) and by 70.7% for women.
- There were 234,795 marriages in 2018; a decrease of 3.3% compared with 2017 and the lowest since 2009. This decrease was related to a 11.4% fall in the number of religious marriages and a 1.0% fall in civil marriages.
- In 2021, 113,505 divorces were granted, a 9.6% increase compared with 2020 when there were 103,592 divorces. The increase in divorces granted in 2021 may partially reflect these delays as well as the impact of the pandemic on divorce applications.
Marriage Statistics in EuropeThe following table includes Marriage Data from Europe for the year 2019.
|Number of marriages in the European Union (EU-27) in 2019||2,129,400|
|Marriage rate in the EU-27 in 2019 (per 1,000 population)||4.3|
|Median age at first marriage for women in the EU-27 in 2019||30.9|
|Median age at first marriage for men in the EU-27 in 2019||33.5|
|Average length of first marriage that ends in divorce in the EU-27||12 years|
|Divorce rate in the EU-27 in 2019 (per 1,000 population)||1.8|
|Percentage of adults who have never been married in the EU-27||35.40%|
|Percentage of adults who are currently married in the EU-27||42.40%|
|Percentage of adults who are divorced or separated in the EU-27||10.00%|
|Percentage of adults who are widowed in the EU-27||12.20%|
- In 2020, among countries in Europe, Italy had one of the lowest crude marriage rates at 1.6 marriages per 1,000 persons while Hungary had one of the highest at 6.9 marriages per 1,000 persons.
- While marriage rates have been declining in many countries, there are some countries where marriage rates are increasing. For example, in 2018, West Bank and Gaza had the highest marriage rate in the world with 10 marriages per every 1,000 population, Fiji followed with 9.8, Egypt and Bahamas counted 9.6 and 9.5 ranking third and fourth respectively.
- In 2020, the crude marriage rates (CMR) varied significantly among OECD countries. Countries like Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain had low CMRs of fewer than 2 marriages per 1000 people. In contrast, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Turkey had almost triple the rate at around 6 per 1000. The OECD average was 3.7 marriages per 1000 people.
- Over the past few decades, marriage rates have declined in almost all OECD countries. In 1970, most countries had CMRs between 7 and 10 marriages per 1000 people. By 1995, this had fallen to around 5 to 7 marriages per 1000 people and has continued to decline in many countries.
- In 2020, crude divorce rates (CDRs) varied significantly among countries. Ireland and Mexico had low CDRs of 0.7 divorces per 1000 people while Denmark, Latvia, and Lithuania had high CDRs of 2.7 per 1000.
- Over the past few decades, as marriage rates have declined, divorce rates have increased. Compared to 1970, current CDRs in most OECD countries are generally higher. All but five OECD countries with available data (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia, and the United States) have higher CDRs now than in 1970. Many countries (Belgium, Greece, Israel, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal) have seen their CDRs more than double over the period.
Opposite-Sex Marriages Statistics
- Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples have fallen to their lowest on record since 1862; in 2019, for men, there were 18.6 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men; for women, there were 17.2 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women..
- Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2018 were the lowest on record in England and Wales, with 20.1 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men and 18.6 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women.
- In 2018, there were 6,925 marriages between same-sex couples in England and Wales, with 57.2% between female couples.
- The share of Americans who favor same-sex marriage grew steadily for most of the last decade, but public support has leveled off in the last few years. About six-in-ten Americans (61%) supported same-sex marriage in 2019.
- Worldwide, most of the countries that allow gay marriage are in Western Europe. Still, a number of Western European nations, including Italy and Switzerland, do not allow same-sex unions. And so far, no countries in Central and Eastern Europe have legalized gay marriage.
- In terms of same-sex marriages, they represented an average of 2.3% of all marriages across 17 OECD countries with available data in 2020. This varied from a low of 1.2% in Iceland to a high of 3.7% in Australia.
- Along with New Zealand and Australia, Taiwan is one of only three nations in the Asia-Pacific region that has legalized same-sex unions.
- In Africa, only South Africa allows gays and lesbians to wed, which became legal in 2006.
- In the Americas, five countries besides Ecuador and the U.S. – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Uruguay – have legalized gay marriage. In addition, some jurisdictions in Mexico allow same-sex couples to wed.
Statistics For Religious Ceremony Marriages
- Religious marriages in England and Wales have become less popular over time. They accounted for 84.7% of all marriages in 1900 but by 1980, this had reduced to 50.4%. Since 1992, civil marriages have increasingly outnumbered religious marriages every year.
- Around one fifth (21.1%) of opposite-sex marriages in England and Wales in 2018 were religious ceremonies, the lowest on record. In contrast, religious ceremonies accounted for only 0.9% of same-sex marriages; however, not all religious organisations conduct marriages of same-sex couples.
Statistics For Civil Partnership Marriages
- In 2018, there were 803 same-sex civil partnerships converted into a marriage in England and Wales, 25.1% fewer than in 2017. Male couples are more likely to convert their civil partnership into a marriage (57.3% of all conversions in 2018 were between male couples).
Marriage Statistics Based on Age
- The increase in the age at which people are getting married is stronger in richer countries, particularly in North America and Europe. In Sweden, for example, the average age of marriage for women went up from 28 in 1990 to 34 years in 2017.
- In England and Wales, the average age at marriage for opposite-sex couples in 2018 was 38.1 years for men and 35.8 years for women; for same-sex couples the average ages at marriage were 40.4 years and 36.9 years respectively.
- Ireland has the world’s oldest brides with a median age of 32.4 years
- However, there are some countries where the average age at marriage is low and has remained unchanged for several years. In Niger, where child marriage is common, the average age at marriage for women has remained constant at 17 years since the early 1990s.
- As marriage rates have declined, the average age of those getting married has increased. In the early 1990s, the mean age of women at first marriage was between 22 and 27 and for men between 24 and 30. By 2020, these averages had increased to between 27 and 33 for women and between 29 and 35 for men across almost all OECD countries.
- There are still notable differences in the ages of individuals at first marriage across OECD countries. The mean age is high in Mediterranean and Nordic countries like Spain and Sweden where it is almost 35 for women and above 36 for men. In contrast, in Israel and Turkey the average age at first marriage is about 25 for women and less than or equal to 28 for men.
- Muslims have the widest spousal age gap (6.6 years between men and their wives or partners), followed by Hindus (5.6 years), Christians (3.8), Buddhists (2.9), the religiously unaffiliated (2.3) and Jews (2.1).
- Large age gaps are especially common in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Gambia (14.5 years between men and their wives or partners), Guinea (13.5) and Mali (12.9). There are much narrower gaps in European countries such as the Czech Republic (2.0), Slovakia (2.1) and Estonia (2.2) – though the United States and China (both 2.2) also are notable examples of small gaps.
- Within individual countries, the size of the spousal age gap can vary by religion. For example, Christian men in Nigeria are 9.2 years older than their female partners, on average, while Muslim men are 13.0 years older.
Marriage Statistics by Race
- In 2020, the marriage rate for white people was 59%, while the marriage rate for black people was 36%. The marriage rate for Hispanic people was 29%, and the marriage rate for Asian people was 27%.
- Women in same-sex marriages are more likely to be non-Hispanic White than women in opposite-sex marriages (69% vs. 63%), and they are less likely to be Asian or Hispanic.