Summary: Americans are waiting longer to get married, but they shouldn't wait too long: The odds for a happy marriage may favor those who tie the knot between the ages of 23 and 27, says a survey out Thursday.
Americans are waiting longer to get married, but they shouldn't wait too long: The odds for a happy marriage may favor those who tie the knot between the ages of 23 and 27, says a survey out Thursday.
The average age at first marriage in the USA has been inching upward; it's now 26 for women and 27 for men.
The survey asked a variety of questions about marriage and divorce, including attitudes toward cohabitation and raising children. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said marriage should be a lifelong commitment.
The survey was designed and analyzed by University of Texas sociology professor Norval Glenn for the National Fatherhood Initiative, which advocates marriage and family values.
To determine marital satisfaction and success, Glenn says, the answers to a series of questions were calculated according to a statistical index, including adjustments for the length of marriages as well as the age at first marriage.
Findings shouldn't create panic among those approaching 30, he says. Those marriages turned out better but maybe not because of the age, he says. Some people may be just too picky or too choosy or not extremely desirable.
Other researchers worry that the findings, based on a 15-minute national telephone survey of 1,503 men and women ages 18 and older in late 2003 and early 2004, may alarm those unattached and marriage-minded.
Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, says marrying too young or too old carries a greater risk of divorce. But now, as people wait longer and longer to marry, the definition of what's too old keeps changing.
In the 1950s, 28 was really old to get married. Now it's not so old, which means there are more unmarried people for a 28-year-old to choose from, he says.